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Healthy animals key to preventing food loss

Brussels (Belgium) – Estimates from global bodies show that 20% of livestock production is lost due to animal disease. Ahead of World Food Day on October 16th, IFAH-Europe took the opportunity to highlight the important role animal medicines play in the sustainable production of safe food with the aim of filling some knowledge gaps.

Awareness

The recent survey findings published by IFAH-Europe in September this year demonstrated a lack of awareness amongst citizens when it comes to animal medicines and food production. Over 70% said that they didn’t know or didn’t think that medicines given to farm animals to keep them healthy could make food safer. 67% expressed concerns about food products such as meat or milk from sick animals entering the food chain and less than half (45%) agreed that food from vaccinated farm animals is safe. On the flip-side however, 83% stated that healthy animals produce better quality products (e.g. milk), and 73% agreed that healthy farm animals enable farmers to produce and supply food in a sustainable manner.

Knowledge gaps

“As only animal produce (like meat, dairy products and eggs) fit for human consumption can enter the food chain, it is clear that we have quite some way to go in filling these knowledge gaps, as well as addressing the issue of food loss due to animal disease,” said IFAH-Europe Secretary General Roxane Feller.

Using respiratory disease in cattle as an example, she continued: “Pneumonia is one of the most common and painful diseases in beef cattle. If untreated, it can be fatal. Aside from the animal welfare aspect here, it can also be economically damaging through massive production losses. It affects millions of animals and costs millions of euros per year. Both preventive vaccines and treatments with anti-inflammatories or antibiotics enable veterinarians to improve animal health and welfare, prevent animal mortality, and avoid such devastating production losses.”

Innovations

“Innovations in animal health can help address production losses and ensure optimal use of natural resource input and less waste output. To further illustrate the key role of animal medicines in addressing the issues outlined, we are launching an infographic explaining the societal, economic and environmental benefits of healthy animals to sustainable food production,” concluded Feller.

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