New CAST Commentary: Healthy Animals Make Confident Consumers (Update and photos from the rollouts)

May 7, 2012

Update: The press release regarding the new Commentary is below and the paper download is available at the right.  The publication received wide attention Monday, May 7, as Dr. Hurd presented the paper to three Washington, D.C., audiences: House staffers, Senate staffers (including USDA members), and IFIC staffers (International Food Information Council) plus representatives from other agricultural organizations and a nationwide telephone audience.  The day's events were organized by CAST, NC-FAR, and IFIC. The collage below shows scenes from the presentation events, and pictured in the lower right hand side are CAST President Nathaniel Tablante, Lead Author and Presenter Scott Hurd, and CAST EVP/CEO John Bonner. 

 (photos courtesy of J. Bonner and T. Van Arsdall)

Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa.  Many groups in society, including politicians, activists, scientists, and stakeholders, are advocating significant changes to livestock production practices. These changes include modification of stocking 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.

Led by Task Force Chair Scott Hurd, the authors of this new CAST  Commentary will
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; and
3.    Highlight specific research needs.

The Commentary looks at the 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 authors use indirect evidence, diagrams, and graphs to deliver their findings about the ways that healthy animals result in safer food.
 
The publication includes specific information from studies and numerous cited sources. The authors believe that "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.
 
Task Force Authors
•    Scott Hurd (Chair), College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames
•    Barbara Masters, Olsson Frank Weeda Law Firm, Washington, D.C.
•    Alan Mathew, Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
•    Steve Oliver, Agricultural Research, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
•    Rod Preston, Texas Tech University (Emeritus), Bellingham, Washington
•    Randall S. Singer, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota, St. Paul

This Commentary is available as a free download on this CAST website (click the title under "Related Publications" at top right of this page), along with many of CAST's other scientific publications. 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.
 
Contacts for this Commentary:
Dr. Scott Hurd-Phone: 515-294-7905; E-mail: shurd@iastate.edu
Dr. John M. Bonner-Phone: 515-292-2125, ext. 225; E-mail: jbonner@cast-science.org

*pig photo from usda/ars and grocery store photo from reuters/ericthayer