Here’s some pics I took in 2001 for the Irish Times in an Irish meat processing plant. BSE or as it’s more commonly known Mad Cow Disease was a huge story in the late nineties. Experts agreed that BSE was most likely spread by cattle eating feed that contained contaminated Meat and Bone Meal (MBM). This is produced in a process called rendering, where otherwise unused animal products are taken from the carcass and are cooked for a long time.
Feeding MBM to cattle has been banned in Ireland since 1990. Due to the BSE crisis in other European countries a ban was introduced throughout the EU on feeding MBM to all farm animals in 2001.
These pictures were taken in the context of the introduction of that EU legislation. Most photos show the normal business associated with beef processing. The cow heads sprayed with blue paint in the final photo are parts of destroyed cattle which had been imported from outside the state and suspected of consuming MBM .
It wasn’t the nicest of context to photograph in, very noisy with strong smells. Couldn’t wait to get outta there. I still eat meat though.