The need to provide scientifically sound information to consumers is as important as it is for the producers with whom veterinarians work on a daily basis. As veterinarians, it’s not only our role but also our responsibility to help others translate the science and to communicate the realities behind safety issues that draw attention in mainstream press.
The Animal Health Network (AHN) is a small group of top research and practicing large animal veterinarians, animal scientists and cattle producers with specific expertise in veterinary and animal science. It serves as a resource to the Beef Checkoff by educating media, public and others about cattle health and food safety. It provides scientific expertise and perspective on issues such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), foot and mouth disease, food safety, antibiotic resistance and the use of growth promotants in cattle production. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, on behalf of the Beef Checkoff program, manages the Animal Health Network.
The inaugural meeting of AHN was held in conjunction with the 2004 Beef Industry Summer Conference, where the group discussed key beef- safety issues and what it could do to help provide scientific perspective and guidance. AHN members formed four “working groups” dedicated to developing science-based resources on a number of beef-safety issues including transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), growth promotants, food safety and emerging diseases. The resources developed are used to inform the media, our colleagues, beef producers and the general public about veterinary commitment to health and safety of the nation’s animals.
AHN also provides a forum to regularly communicate, exchange ideas, and share research findings and lessons learned on the farm. Its members appreciate the opportunity to evaluate important consumer issues. The perspectives of the various AHN members have helped the group learn a great deal about issues of vital importance to the beef industry.
The complex nature of the cattle industry demands that veterinarians be well-versed in the latest science, practices, issues and education. The members of AHN encourage you to join them in sharing what veterinarians do each day to help raise healthy animals and provide safe food for consumers.
For more information about the Animal Health Network, contact Robert Larson at email@example.com.
A member of the Animal Health Network, Robert Larson, DVM, PhD, is the Coleman Chair for Food Animal Production Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University.