Sunday, December 5, 2010


When BSE (MAD Cow Disease) spread to humans in the UK in 1996 the government there introduced legislation prohibiting the sale of meat for human consumption from cattle over 30 months at slaughter (the Over 30 Month Rule).

Prior to this rule, 22% of the beef eaten in the UK came from old dairy cows.

Despite all the adverse publicity about mad cow disease, 5 years later in 2001, UK beef consumption had risen by 5kg per person or 31% from 16kg per person to 21kg per person.

In Australia approximately 30% of the beef consumed comes from old cows. There are no age restrictions on slaughter and labels such as “budget” are commonly used to describe beef from old cows.

In the same five year period of rising consumption in the UK, per capita consumption in Australia fell by 4.8 kg or 12% from 39.3kg to 34.5kg.

In NZ, where there is also no grading or slaughter age legislation, beef consumption declined by 10.7kg per person or 27% (although the longer term trend was closer to -7%).

At the same time per capita beef consumption in the US, Canada, Japan and Korea, which all have grading systems, either increased or broke even.

In the US, approximately 80% of the cattle slaughtered are under 30 months old and most cattle slaughtered are under 18 moths of age.

Detailed information on the effect of UK slaughter age legislation on beef consumption and expenditure can be viewed HERE.

Full figures on beef consumption by country can be found on the Hunt Partners documents pageHERE.

For details on the UK 30 Month Rule see: FSA Background paper on BSE controls.

For details on cattle slaughtered in the US see:USU Extension Committee Consumer Information Paper on BSE.

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