New CAST Commentary: Healthy Animals Make Confident Consumers

Beef Cattle, Dairy, Food Safety, Hogs, Pigs, and Pork May 09, 2012|Print

Released May 7, 2012

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, commentary download and more at

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