Exploring the Link Between Animal Health and Food Safety
May 11, 2012

There's growing pressure for animal agriculture to change its practices, whether it be utilizing gestation crates or feeding antibiotics, but a new paper cautions that these changes may negatively impact food safety. 
The discussion paper released by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) -- a research group that includes the Farm Bureau and the American Veterinary Medical Association -- this week identified some of the factors now being discussed that impact animal health, including antibiotic use, economies of scale, housing, local production and sustainability. 
Scientists have long known there is a link between animal health, stress levels and pathogen shedding, but as CAST and others have noted, more research is needed. 
Many of the buzzwords being discussed in the food movement, and by an increasing number of consumers, like organic, all natural, antibiotic-free or pastured have direct animal health implications -- many sustainable food advocates argue that these changes lead to healthier animals. But CAST gives some examples of how these methods could have the opposite effect. 
The paper also looks specifically at some research on the difference between keeping animals indoors vs. outdoors. 
The full CAST paper, The Direct Relationship between Animal Health and Food Safety Outcomes," can be read at www.cast-science.org/publications/?the_direct_relationship_between_animal_health_and_food_safety_outcomes&show=product&productID=155971. 
Reprinted in part from Food Safety News