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Book Chapter

Publication Date



Over the last fifteen years, a diverse succession of disease-related crises has befallen farm animal and food industries in the United Kingdom. Some have involved animal health, with little risk to humans. Some have involved human health, with animals acting as a reservoir for infection but little affected themselves. Some, however— including the most alarming— have involved both animal and human health through zoonoses, diseases transmittable from animal to human. All of these crises are linked in the public mind and in many commentaries, and indeed there are issues that many of them share. The most common of these is concern for food safety, but concern for animal welfare is also a recurrent theme. These concerns play out against a backdrop of:

  • Prevalent attitudes, including complacency, about issues of biosecurity, from animal health to food safety;
  • Relevant legislation, law enforcement, and law breaking;
  • The practices of transporting animal feed, animals, and animal products; and
  • An emphasis on the economics of animal production to the exclusion of all other considerations.

Few of these crises have been limited to the United Kingdom, but the problems do seem to have been worse and more frequent there.