The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) is hosting a seminar Monday, May 7, on consumer desires for animal "welfare" in farm production practices.
Titled "Healthy Animals Make Confident Consumers: The Direct Relationship between Animal Health and Food Safety Outcomes," the event is in Washington, D.C., but it can be listened to as a conference call and will also become available sometime that day as a free download on the CAST website.
CAST is an international consortium of scientific and professional societies, companies and nonprofit organizations. It assembles, interprets and communicates credible, science-based information regionally, nationally and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector and the public. The group regularly releases science-based papers on a wide variety of topics.
The group says it is hosting this seminar because many groups in society, including politicians, activists, scientists and stakeholders are advocating significant changes to livestock production practices.
These changes include modification of stocking or caging densities, limitations on antimicrobial use and requirements for outdoor "experiences." Such changes may affect animal health.
Simultaneously consumers are demanding virtually risk-free food and they think food safety should be addressed on-farm as well as during processing. Understanding the complex relationship between animal health and food safety is critical for producers, the organization says.
The commentary will examine pressures to change livestock rearing methods, evidence to support the direct public health impact on human illness days and food safety and inspection service regulations.
The presenters, who are members of a CAST task force on the same topic, use indirect evidence, diagrams and graphs to deliver their findings about the ways that healthy animals result in safer food.
It is led by Scott Hurd, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University. The authors of this new CAST publication and commentary will cover three topics:
1. Discuss the quantifiable impact animal health has on public health risk of foodborne illness from farm products.
2. Identify the factors that impact animal health.
3. Highlight specific research needs.
Their CAST publication, which is the source of data for this discussion, includes specific information from studies and numerous cited sources.
The authors say "it should be clear that the health of the animals within the food animal production system impacts many aspects of the system far removed from the animals themselves....Based on the research described here, it is evident that the national policy impacts of changing animal health can and should be modeled."
The paper concludes that more research is needed in this crucial area of food safety.
To listen to the conference call at 2:30 Eastern daylight time Click here to reserve one of the limited lines. You must specify "in person" or "conference call."
The number for the conference call is (877) 820-7831. Then enter 9574581# as your room number.
There are a limited number of seats and phone lines available.
Members of the task force include:
•Scott Hurd (chairman), College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University
•Barbara Masters, Olsson Frank Weeda Law Firm, Washington, D.C.
•Alan Mathew, Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University
•Steve Oliver, Agricultural Research, University of Tennessee
•Rod Preston, Texas Tech University (emeritus), Bellingham, Washington
•Randall S. Singer, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota