Europe benefits from the highest animal health standards in the world, but animal health needs greater recognition and improved support at the legislative level, according to stakeholders at the annual conferences of the International Federation of Animal Health in Europe, IFAH-Europe. 

Catherine Geslain-Laneele, executive director of the European Food Safety Authority, assured delegates that Europe enjoys one of the best food safety systems in the world, supported by comprehensive scientific advice from farm to fork, including animal health and welfare. 

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Many diseases that threatened the production of poultry, pig and other meats have now been brought under control and Alejandro Bernal, chairman of IFAH-Europe said that Europe has been successful in managing animal diseases, such as Salmonella, bluetongue and foot-and-mouth disease, which just years ago posed serious threats. “Europeans are accustomed to very high standards in food safety and sometimes the contribution animal health makes to our wellbeing is overlooked," said Bernal. "We encourage policymakers to support us in building an appropriate climate to continue developing advanced solutions that protect both animal and human health."

Declan O’Brian, managing director of IFAH-Europe, wrapped up the debate by calling for science-based decisions and rational arguments. “Slaughter or trade bans that result after outbreaks must be carefully examined and based on scientific evidence to avoid weakening the agricultural economies of exporting nations," said O'Brien. "More efficient veterinary legislation can help stimulate innovation and allow for more products to be brought to market. This will not only increase our preparedness for future disease outbreaks from both a health and a trade perspective, but will contribute to the sustainable supply of safe food.”