Leeds nostalgia: In May 1996, the Government is criticised for its response to the BSE outbreak

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A full year after the first outbreak of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), otherwise known as Mad Cow Disease, the Government came under fire over its mass slaughter policy.

In May, a scheme began to slaughter animals more than 30 months old, in a bid to restore confidence in consumers and buyers. Under the plan, animal remains had to be stained and disposed of so they did not re-enter the food chain.

But some in the industry described the approach as a farce, because of lack of information, with no information for farmers about how they would be compensated for the loss of cattle.

Meanwhile, slaughterhouses were prepared to kill up to 500 cows a day but many said they were not in a position to implement the scheme because they did not know at the time where to send the carcasses.

The BSE crisis has its roots in the 1980s, when infected meat was fed to cattle. Some house cats even died from eating infected beef. By 1996, ten people had the human form of BSE, known as variant-CJD. Some 4.5m cattle were slaughtered to halt the disease.