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Home Industry News British food safety ‘being threatened by dwindling vet influence’

British food safety ‘being threatened by dwindling vet influence’

16th February 2010

Scientists have warned food safety in the UK is being threatened by a significant shift away from treating farm animals.

Philip Lowe, from the Centre for Rural Economy at the University of Newcastle, has said the proportion of time vets in private practice spent treating animals used for food halved between 1998 and 2006.

This is due in part to the fact that most vets run their own businesses, and pet owners have proved a more sustainable and lucrative source of income than farmers.

However, Professor Lowe expressed concern that this is causing a wider health issue, saying: “I believe that not involving vets in this important area also puts food safety in the UK at risk.”

The expert added that the veterinary arm of government traditionally provided leadership for the profession, embodied by the chief veterinary officer, and was underpinned by the proportion of vets’ income derived from public funding.

Professor Lowe claims this is no longer the case, with the percentage of vets employed by government having shrunk from 11 per cent to four per cent over the past 40 years.

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