Happy New Year.
In 2002, I worked on a documentary investigating the American meat industry for the PBS series Frontline. After talking to a lot of experts about Mad Cow and the threat of BSE, we concluded that the real story was about the threat from food borne illness like e coli and salmonella, which kill an estimated 5000 people a year in the United States, not the threat from BSE, which killed about 150 in Great Britain over the last ten years.
The consolidation of the American meat industry, and its determination to vigorously fight any regulation that might impact their low margin business, was, and is, the real story. The name, Mad Cow, and the endless footage of that one cow staggering around drunkenly, provide a neat, sensationalistic storyline, but the intense focus on this issue is off the mark. Check out the website and contact your local PBS station and ask them to rebroadcast "Modern Meat."