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NOAH Calls for Unified Communications in Food Chain

08 March 2013

UK - Organisations involved in the food chain should band together to bust the myths surrounding animal medicines, a National Office of Animal Health conference has been told.

Delegates at the National Office of Animal Health's (NOAH) fourth food chain conference, at The Royal Society in London, were told that a recent consumer survey had found misconceptions about animal medicines in the food chain were still widespread.

Phil Sketchley, Chief Executive of NOAH, said a unified communications strategy was necessary between organisations such as the Food Standards Agency, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA), NOAH, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), IGD and the NFU among others.

Referring to the survey, Consumer Attitudes to Animal Medicines and Vaccinations, Mr Sketchley said: "It is clear there is still a lot of work to do in terms of educating the consumer about animal medicines in the food chain, and this should really be done in a combined way with all the organisations concerned."

"We need to work together if we are going to build consumer confidence in our food chain," he said.

Presenting the survey on behalf of NOAH, IGD Insight Manager Michael Freedman said myths about animal medicines were still widespread: 71 per cent of respondents not aware that growth hormones, banned throughout Europe in 1988, were not still used in UK farming, 72 per cent said medicines including vaccines caused people harm by getting into the food chain, and 90 per cent thought medicines were more necessary in intensive farming.

He said e HehE awareness of medicines and vaccinations remained high, with 78 per cent of consumers being aware of medicines for treatment, 74 per cent being aware of vaccinations, and 69 per cent aware of medicines for preventing disease.

When asked about their concerns over animals in the food chain, the highest rated was animal living conditions, followed by food factory hygiene. Among the lowest concerns were the use of medicines to make sick animals better, and the use of medicines to stop animals becoming sick.

This is the third such survey that NOAH has commissioned, with previous research conducted in 2006 and 2009.

The conference also heard from Professor Stuart Reid, Principal of the Royal Veterinary College, who gave a talk on "A balanced approach to addressing antimicrobial resistance".

David Evans, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons, gave a presentation on "Retailer's perspective: Information available to the consumer", and a talk on consumer pressure groups was given by Raymond O'Rourke, a barrister specialising in food regulation and consumer affairs.

Other speakers included Jackie Atkinson, Director of Authorisation at the VMD, Adam Quinney, Vice President of the NFU, John FitzGerald, Secretary General of RUMA and journalist Olivia Cooper.

NOAH Chief Executive Phil Sketchley continued the theme of the myths surrounding animal medicines in livestock production, and highlighted the information that NOAH had produced, available on its website.

"This has been an extremely useful conference, and it is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done by the industry in dispelling the myths surrounding livestock production," he said. "In these difficult times for consumer confidence, we need to continue to work together to ensure that consumers have access to the facts about how animal medicines contribute to keeping British farm livestock healthy."

NOAH's last Food Chain Conference was held in 2011 and was on the theme of "Feeding The World", and investigated the role that animal medicines have in worldwide food production and animal welfare.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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