Keywords: variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, vCJD, Japan, risk management, risk perception, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE, risk assessment, risk communication, public trust, mad cow disease, variant CJD, food safety
Risk assessment, management and communication responses to bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Japan
Regardless of the increased spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to several European countries during the late 1990s Japan considered the occurrence of domestic BSE a remote possibility. However, Japan was the first country outside of Europe to report a domestic case of BSE. The public vehemently rejected beef and its increased risk to health. Domestic consumption decreased drastically after BSE was confirmed on 10 September 2001. The strong public reaction that crippled the domestic beef industry also resulted in a significant loss of trust in government officials. To restore public trust and consumer confidence in food safety, the government implemented new legislation and several policies including high risk material bans, 100% post mortem testing and stringent animal traceability. Policies, programs and trainings were initiated and implemented quickly, along with an effective risk communication effort in attempts to regain public trust.