Alltech has awarded Commissioner David Byrne the prestigious 2009 Medal of Excellence for his commitment to food safety including his revolutionary reform of the European Union’s safety systems during his tenure, according to an Alltech press release.

The award was presented during Alltech's 25th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky, USA.

"Commissioner Byrne pioneered the structures of traceability, rapid response and recall within the European Union," said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. "He revolutionized feed and food safety and restored consumer confidence in the industry."

In his address to slightly more than 1,000 attendees at the symposium, Byrne discussed the impact of emerging BSE (“mad cow disease”) which occurred during his term as EU commissioner.

“Crisis creates reform” was the theme of his message citing the collapse of the UK beef industry and the erosion of consumer confidence in the regulatory system.

In defining the response to a food safety crisis, Byrne stressed the following principles:

  • Consumers must recognize that a government agency or figure of authority in the context of a company is clearly in charge of responding to a crisis;
  • There must be a clearly communicated plan to resolve the problem;
  • There must be a perception that the plan is functional and reducing risk to consumers;
  • Government or corporate action must be open and transparent;
  • Safety is the preeminent consideration transcending narrow political or commercial interests in restoring safety and consumer confidence.

Byrne was appointed as Ireland's European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection in September 1999, a position he held until 2004.

Byrne currently holds the position of Chancellor of Dublin City University and serves as non-executive director of Alltech.

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Dr. Karl Dawson, Alltech director of worldwide research (left), and Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech founder and president (right), presenting the Medal of Excellence to Dr. David Byrne (center).