BSE has caused several political crises, cost several billion pounds, resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of cattle and, tragically, caused the death of some 150 young people. In this lucid and balanced account, Richard Packer, the Permanent Secretary at MAFF during the height of the crisis, details the facts of the government response and shows how many of the popular perceptions about the handling of the outbreak are wrong, but also how the low politics of the day delayed actions that could have saved lives. He reveals the awful truth about the lack of information about this new disease and the how the decisions taken to protect public health were a combination of informed guesswork and sheer good fortune.

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