Threats posed by recent food safety outbreaks and animal-borne illness have amplified the need for food-animal veterinarians specializing in food safety and public health.
To help meet growing needs, the College of Veterinary Medicine’s (CVM) Center for Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) offers a veterinary public health dual-degree program that focuses on food safety and bio-security. The program is a partnership with the School of Public Health.
“Agriculture is an important economic engine of the state, and veterinarians are an important driver of that engine,” said Dr. Laura Molgaard, associate dean for academic and student affairs within the CVM.
Two decades ago, nearly half of CVM’s graduates went on to become large-animal practitioners. Unfortunately, the number of current graduates planning to practice in the area of food animal production and/or food safety has fallen dramatically.
Since its inception in 2001, the CAHFS has been on the forefront of emerging animal health, public health, and food safety issues.
This program addresses public health as a broad social enterprise that is multidisciplinary. This ‘One Health’ approach teaches students that human health, animal health, and ecosystem health are inextricably linked. It emphasizes the importance of applying basic scientific knowledge to current societal problems and concerns.
According to Dr. Laura Schulz, who works at one of the state’s largest swing production practices, Swine Vet Center, P.A., in St. Peter, Minnesota, the program is designed to foster the skills that will generate new leaders in the field.
“We are absolutely training tomorrow’s leaders,” said Schulz. “These students are out there every day looking at our food supply, making an impact and keeping us all safer.”
Today, CAHFS is uniquely positioned as the only academic institution in the United States that houses colleges of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science, Extension Service, Public Health, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine.
The presence of these academic units, plus the Center’s historically close working relationship with local and national governmental agencies and the upper Midwest’s vast network of food producers, processors and technology give students an unparalleled view of food-safety initiatives.
--- Kelly O’Connor