Recent research has shown that by decoupling the risk response behaviour of consumers into the separate components of risk perception and risk attitude, a more robust conceptualization and prediction of consumers’ reactions to food safety issues is possible. Furthermore, it has been argued that the influence of risk attitudes and risk perceptions on consumer risk behaviour for contaminated food products can be used to formulate effective agricultural policies and strategies in case of a food crisis. The question arises whether or not the influence and magnitude of these risk variables changes over time and, hence, whether policies and strategies must be adapted. The BSE (mad cow disease) crises in the USA, Germany and The Netherlands in 2001 and 2004 provided us with a natural experiment to examine the relationship between risk attitudes and perceptions and behaviour over time. The results show that in some countries consumers risk behaviour changed, whereas in others not. These results are useful to policy makers and decision makers in food industry in developing more efficient supply chain management and public policies.