On Friday, members from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), as well as members of veterinarian organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), joined at the Jefferson Auditorium in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France, in 1761. FSIS is the largest employer of veterinarians worldwide and with APHIS at number two, it only made sense that USDA acknowledge these individuals in a meaningful way. FSIS and APHIS held an opening ceremony and I was fortunate enough to deliver remarks on behalf of FSIS alongside Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Ron DeHaven, Executive Vice President, AVMA, and Dr. John Clifford, Chief Veterinary Officer, APHIS. This morning’s presentations may be found here.
Veterinarians play an essential role in the farm to fork continuum and I am honored to be a part of such a dedicated profession. Dr. Clifford discussed the number of disease outbreaks that members of APHIS eradicated over the past century in order to protect the American public. I highlighted policy changes such as the Federal Meat Inspection Act (1906) and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (1958) that would not be in existence had it not been for input by veterinarians. Today, FSIS’ 1,000 veterinarians across the country ensure that animals harvested for food are free of disease and treated humanely, and ensure that in-plant food safety systems protect the health of the American public. Dr. DeHaven, our keynote speaker, educated us on the history of the veterinary profession over the past 250 years and what Vet 2011 is really all about. World Veterinary Year has been recognized by 42 national committees worldwide, including the U. S. Congress. Further information on Vet 2011 is available on their site.
I was honored to be a part of such a momentous occasion for FSIS and APHIS and am looking forward to upcoming events and activities as 2011 progresses. You can also stay tuned for updates on Vet 2011 through our social media outlets, Twitter and the USDA Facebook page.