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The Glasgow case: meat, disease and regulation, 1889-1924

Atkins, P.J.


P.J. Atkins


Contemporary estimates indicate that a substantial proportion of the indigenous beef consumed in Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries came from tuberculous animals. If properly cooked, this meat presented less of a risk to human health than infected raw milk, but concerns were nevertheless expressed by many public health professionals, especially in the 1880s and 1890s. This paper looks at the interests of the various parties in the debate about diseased meat that evolved between 1889 and 1924. It investigates the solutions proposed and comments on the nature of central government policy-making. Much depended on a notorious case in 1889 in Glasgow. The local authority there successfully prosecuted a butcher and a meat wholesaler for displaying diseased meat illegally, and thereby created a precedent, placing the responsibility for quality at the feet of particular actors in the food system. This unleashed a heated debate between the local state and the meat trade and friction between farmers and butchers. Finding a negotiated compromise between the various parties proved to be difficult and finally, in 1924, the government felt the need to impose its own solution in the form of the Public Health (Meat) Regulations.


Atkins, P. (2004). The Glasgow case: meat, disease and regulation, 1889-1924. Agricultural History Review, 52(2), 161-182

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2004
Deposit Date Apr 5, 2007
Journal Agricultural History Review
Publisher British Agricultural History Society
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Issue 2
Pages 161-182
Keywords Bovine tubercolosis, Rural-development, Cattle, Beef.
Publisher URL