Healthy animals = safer food = happy people

A task force for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) have looked 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.

They (and you and I) know that many groups in society, including politicians, activists, scientists, and stakeholders, are advocating significant changes to livestock production practices. { Example here. }

These changes include modification of stocking densities, limitations on antimicrobial use, and requirements for outdoor "experiences."

What does this come down to? 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.

So what this research is really saying: Consumers don’t realize that when they are demanding livestock production practices to be changed to what they “think” is safer for the animal – in actuality it affects animal health.

Production practices are put into place for a specific reason. Farrowing crates keep mama sows from crushing their piglets; chicken barns keep the animals out of the elements and from getting hunted by birds or wild animals – not to mention the disease control; cattle in feedlots are given better care because they have instant access to food and water and are watched over daily for their health by herdsmen.

These are just a few examples – but farmers and ranchers want to care for their animals which is just the reason they use these methods to raise their livestock.

A great example is my friend, Dawn Caldwell, taking care of her cows. She knows they are healthy because she checks them daily. Dawn’s production practices are what makes safe, healthy food.

If you’d like to read more of this Commentary from CAST, a free download is available on CAST website (click the title under "Related Publications" at top right of this page).

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