Wednesday, 4 March 2009 12:00 AM
Details of a recent survey revealing increased consumer awareness of animal medicines were examined by food industry stakeholders during the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)'s conference, held at The Royal Society in London on Wednesday.
Titled 'The role of vaccination in animal health - future technology and societal acceptance', the conference presented the consumer survey results as part of a wider discussion on the role for vaccination and new technologies in managing the threat of emerging diseases.
Encouragingly, the survey, carried out by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) on behalf of NOAH, found that consumers have confidence in those working in the food chain to use animal medicines appropriately and produce safe food.
Speaking at the conference, IGD Senior Consumer Analyst Gerardine Padbury pointed out that, with the onset of recession, consumers are giving more thought to the food they buy. "They want good value, more local produce and to be assured of high animal health and welfare," she said.
Continuing this theme, fellow speaker Ruth Griffiths, Marketing Controller of Vion Food Group, said the livestock industry now has an opportunity to be braver and more open in its communications with consumers. "We should take advantage of the growing awareness of animals in the food chain and make positive statements about the high standard of technological development and animal production practices."
Phil Sketchley, chief executive of NOAH, reiterated the need for continuing advances in vaccine technology combined with clear communication. "We need to thoroughly explore the role vaccination has to play in animal health and, most importantly, how we can best communicate with the public to improve understanding and acceptance of new technologies which protect both our livestock and ourselves as consumers.
"It is extremely positive that we already have consumer confidence in the food chain and its use of animal medicines, but we must continue to be vigilant and be prepared to address future disease threats."
Mr Sketchley highlighted the examples of bluetongue, now a real and present danger to UK livestock which only three or four years ago had not been given much serious thought, and Rift Valley Fever, a zoonotic disease which has already reached the North African coast on the Mediterranean and moves steadily closer to Europe each year.
In addition to consumer attitudes and emerging diseases, speakers from the animal health industry and food supply chain addressed the conference on topics including European technology for global animal health, bluetongue vaccines, and societal and regulatory interactions in vaccine development.
Copies of contributors' presentations and photographs of the conference are available from Debbie Lightfoot at Kendalls on 01394 610022 or email@example.com.
Notes to Editors
The National Office of Animal Health represents the UK animal medicines industry: its aim is to promote the benefits of safe, effective, quality medicines for the health and welfare of all animals.