Foodborne illnesses in the U.S. affect 48 million people annually and cause more than 3,000 deaths. Food production technology, globalization, and consumer demand contribute to an increasingly complex food supply chain, which is supported by a diverse workforce. Veterinary professionals are actively involved in all aspects of the food supply chain, being uniquely equipped through education and training in animal health and food hygiene to play a central, critical role in ensuring the safety of foods of animal origin.
The AVMA supports appropriate educational, legislative, and regulatory measures to assure that foods of animal origin, including meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, dairy, and eggs, are safe and wholesome. Additionally, AVMA promotes close attention to animal husbandry in food production operations so as to protect animal health and welfare.
The AVMA advocates for:
- A comprehensive food safety program that includes a science-based risk assessment of potential hazards and risks at each stage of the food chain, so that the specific controls, processes, and monitoring required to protect public health are in place.
- Veterinarians to occupy food safety leadership roles.
- The implementation of traceability systems throughout the food supply chain.
- Surveillance for foodborne pathogens and the application of epidemiological data to prevent, detect, and respond to foodborne disease outbreaks.
- A food safety regulatory program that is effectively enforced and supports coordination among federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal agencies. The overseeing agencies should be publicly funded and have the expertise and resources to manage the full scope of a food safety program. These agencies should also engage with international organizations (e.g., WHO, OIE, FAO) to support global health, food production, and trade.
- Promoting a culture focused on food safety and continual learning that supports developing and strengthening advanced training and educational programs in food safety tailored to a diverse group of veterinarians, in collaboration with educational programs intended for food safety professionals and graduate students.
- Development of evidence-based animal health and food safety regulatory standards for the US and adherence to these standards for domestic and imported products destined for human consumption.
- The prohibition of importation of animals intended for food consumption and food products from animals that have been treated with drugs banned in the United States.
- Continuous investment in technological advances and administrative controls that support food safety and public health.