New CAST Commentary: The Direct Relationship between Animal Health and Food Safety Outcomes

The health of the animals within the food animal production system impacts many aspects of the system far removed from the animals themselves. To promote high productivity in animal agriculture, researchers need to examine nutrition, management systems, and animal care practices including the use of antibiotics and vaccines. This 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.

Led by Task Force Chair Scott Hurd, the authors of this new Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (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 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 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.