‘You’re not dairy farmers; you are in the human health business’

“When I was in the Food Safety Authority (FSA) I used to say, ‘everyone is in the food safety business’; you are as much in the food safety business as people that own hotels.”

This was a statement made by University College Dublin (UCD) professor of public health, Paddy Wall, who spoke this evening, January 28, at the Arrabawn Dairy Conference – held in the Abbey Court Hotel, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.

Speaking at the event, he said: “Human nutrition is the end product. You are what you eat is as true now as it has ever been. So really you are in the human health business; believe it or not.

“In Ireland they call the doctors and nurses the human health professionals. They are not the health professionals; they are the sickness professionals. They manage sick people,” he joked.

He added: “So if anyone asks you what business are you in, don’t tell them that you milk cows, tell them you are in the human health business.

You are producing food for humans to keep them healthy. We have to be aggressively proud of the product we are producing; milk is a great product. The future is looking good; you have a great future.

Avoid adverse publicity

For this reason, he said we have to avoid adverse publicity in four main areas, outlining these, he said:

“We cannot have any food health scares, animal welfare scares – pictures or videos of calves or cows being mistreated – nutritional health and unfavorable environmental impacts.”

Continuing, he said: “We can now test for chemicals at lower and lower levels and that is why it is so important that we remove chlorine – because they can pick it up in milk and in infant-milk formula.

“The same goes for antibiotics; it is like the ‘F word’ now. But how are we going to use less antibiotics? The simple thing is to have less disease.

“Scours and pneumonia are easy to prevent. For others, we need to have better biosecurity, better nutrition and breed a tougher animal. We have always bred animals for milk yield and performance, but not disease resistance,” he added.