Hit or miss? Defra attempts to dispel the worries over TB-infected beef

First it was horse. Now diseased cow meat is on sale for human consumption. According to The Sunday Times, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs makes £10m a year by selling meat from diseased cattle, slaughtered after testing positive for bovine TB, to some caterers and food processors

In the moos: Cow meat in the headlines
In the moos: Cow meat in the headlines

It has found its way into schools, hospitals and the military. Defra said the risk of infection to humans is ‘extremely low’.

How I see it

Hew Leith, head of corporate and b2b practice,M&C Saatchi PR 

‘I wouldn’t feed that meat to my dog.’ With emotive consumer reactions like this, one could be forgiven for thinking we are back in January and it’s the horsemeat scandal revisited. 

Although the bovine TB story makes a good headline and lends itself to compelling vox pops, the devil is in the detail. Just as we saw six months ago, the food supply chain is an incredibly complex process to understand and explain. 

Defra detonated the myth on the first day the story broke. Its website used brutally simple language to derail the myth and highlight how the risks have been reviewed by the Food Standards Agency’s independent advisory expert panel in 2002 and 2010, and by the European Food Safety Authority. 

Defra’s press office should be applauded for telling the truth, telling it all and telling it quickly.

Do you think Defra's response was a hit or a miss? Tell us in the comments below.

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