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Role of Food Animal Veterinarians in Control of Foodborne Pathogens

By

Donald L. Noah

, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, Lincoln Memorial University;


Stephanie R. Ostrowski

, DVM, MPVM, DACVPM, Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University

Last full review/revision May 2015 | Content last modified May 2015
Topic Resources

Veterinarians in food animal practice and government service contribute significantly to the safety of the food supply. These roles can be categorized by stage of production (eg, antemortem, postmortem, and general).

Antemortem activities include assurance of animal welfare, zoonotic disease recognition and prevention, inspection of preslaughter animals, and antibiotic residue testing.

Postmortem activities include carcass inspection and tissue residue determination.

General activities begin with herd health programs, including disease treatment and prevention, husbandry/handling/environmental advice, reproductive efficiency, vaccination regimens, nutrition, stress reduction, commodity group protocols (eg, Beef Quality Assurance), and biosecurity and biocontainment plans. In addition to herd health, other important activities include appropriate/judicious use of antimicrobials, disease surveillance, illness/outbreak/epidemic investigation and mitigation, vaccination against specific high-consequence or high-prevalence pathogens (eg, E coli O157:H7 and Salmonella), collaboration with other health professionals (One Health), food facility inspection (eg, production, retail, storage), import/export examinations, health department leadership, public health (risk) communication, food supply after disasters, and research into safer food production processes.

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Basics of Food Safety
Foodborne pathogens have similar nutritional and environmental requirements that affect their ability to multiply. Food handlers can control these aspects to limit pathogen growth. For example, pathogens grow best when the temperature is 40°F and 140°F. In general, perishable foods should not be kept in this danger zone for more than how many hours?
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