The impact of food scares on meat consumption has been traditionally investigated by estimating food demand systems using aggregated time series. Only a few have considered micro data but none of them has tried to quantify consumers’ reaction to food scares and the speed of such reactions. In this study we apply duration analysis techniques with the aim of analysing the effect of different explanatory variables on both the risk of reducing beef consumption and the timing of this reduction. Our results suggest that the maximum hazard occurs during the few months after the occurrence of the food crisis and then the reducing consumption hazard tend to diminish. Moreover, economic factors such as prices and income could be considered as the most determinant factors of the survival of the Spanish consumers facing the BSE crisis while other socioeconomic characteristics such as the age, the gender, etc., have a small, if any, effect on the occurrence and the speed of beef consumption reduction indicating a quite homogenous reaction among Spanish consumers to BSE crisis. These results provide interesting insights about how policy makers could orientate food policies in order to recover consumption after a food scare.