Mad Cow crisis preventable
Sylvain Charlebois - Associate Dean CME
Most would agree that the "mad cow" event of May 20, 2003, following the discovery of our country's first native Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy case, wasn't really a food safety-centric crisis, at least in Canada; in retrospect, it was primarily a trade crisis.
As domestic demand for beef shattered records in Canada that year, 35 countries, including the U.S. and Japan, overnight issued an embargo on Canadian cattle and beef. Since half of Canada's $7 billion beef industry was based on exports, the embargo was a catastrophe. Despite billions in compensation, many farmers went under, and livelihoods were destroyed. The mad cow crisis was very real to the cattle industry, a passing worry for Canadian consumers, but most importantly, it was a crisis that could have been prevented.