This day in history: March 25, 1996

Britain says no slaughter of its cattle because of mad cow disease.
2:25 | 03/06/19

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Transcript for This day in history: March 25, 1996
The British government has already acknowledged that what is called. Mad cow disease probably led to the deaths of at least eight young people in Britain. And it was expected to announce today the slaughter of millions of possibly infected cattle instead the government declared no additional safety measures are needed. The announcement was intended to restore the public's confidence has ABC's Mike Lee reports it appears to have shaken it even more. The government would only repeat today what it has been saying since the crisis began last week. The British beef poses an extremely small risk to the public. The committee does not believe. That any additional measures are justified at this stage. A reckless disregard for public health said the opposition labor party. You lost me I said that public confidence was hanging fire threats. Now public confidence has collapsed. The government's decision to an essence do nothing seemed to satisfy no one within hours scientific experts from all members of the European Union recommended a total bank. Burger King was the latest of the major restaurant chains to withdraw a British beef. On the wholesale market beef prices plummeted by 15%. Snow said in the so. Become that it draws the I was going. Having decided to do nothing when I think most people are expecting to see some soul train animals. Then they run the risk that people on knots as confident as I would want them to be. There is so little confidence here because so few people can be absolutely sure of one thing. The key question because humans remains the same in fact he's. Is it safe to eat beef. The government says yes with an emphasis on the words extremely small risk. But at schools parents were asking what do they mean by that. That would certainly would have brought great the food just convince me that anything they said yeah. Most experts do agree that cattle younger than thirty months about half of the British heard of eleven million are disease free. That's because infected feed was eliminated from the cattle food chain in the early ninety's. But older animals may be carriers and there is no test for mad cow disease in living cattle. Leaving consumers with a dilemma do they want to take that extremely small risk. Mike Lee ABC news law.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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