How the beef industry was plunged into crisis
• Wed Mar 20: Daily Mirror tells more than 3m readers that the government will admit humans could catch mad cow disease from infected beef.
In a Commons statement, health secretary Stephen Dorrell said there remains no scientific proof that BSE can be transmitted to man by beef.
But the spongiform encephalopathy advisory committee (SEAC) had concluded that the most likely explanation is that 10 cases of CJD, identified in people under 42, are linked to exposure to BSE before the specified offal ban was introduced in 1989.
Farm minister Douglas Hogg announces a ban on meat and bonemeal in all farm animal diets and mandatory de-boning of all slaughter cattle over 30 months.
John Pattison, chairman of SEAC, said the 10 new CJD cases could be the start of an epidemic – it was equally possible that there could be no more or only a few more cases. And the risk from eating beef in 1996 was "extremely small".
Market prices slump by 20%
• Thur Mar 21: France bans British beef and live calves. Followed quickly by 11 other EU countries, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and others. Britain condemns the EU bans as illegal, but the protest is rejected.
Reports emerge that scientists considered "killing off the entire national herd".
• Fri Mar 22: A Consumers Association statement said people who wanted to avoid the risk of BSE had no choice but to cut beef products from their diet. Beef is banned from menus in more than 10,000 schools. Cattle prices crash.
• Sat Mar 22: SEAC meets to consider advice to parents worried about risk to children. McDonalds bans British beef, followed by Wimpy.
• Sun Mar 22: Supermarkets report that sales have slumped. Douglas Hogg is reported to be considering a slaughter policy.
• Mon Mar 25: Burger chains Wendys and Burger King ban British beef. Mr Hogg announces that no further action is needed.