By Darcy Maulsby and Jan Jorgensen

Veterinarians work with pig farmers every day to keep pigs healthy. But your customers may not know that they also help keep people healthy. Just ask Michelle Sprague, DVM, with AMVC Management Services in Audubon, Iowa.

“Veterinarians are the front line of defense when it comes to food safety.”
– Michelle Sprague, DVM, Iowa

“Veterinarians are the front line of defense when it comes to food safety,” said Sprague. “This includes everything from ensuring the health of pigs entering the food chain to guarding against disease spread between pigs and people at county fairs.”

Pete Thomas, DVM, who is director of health services for Iowa Select Farms, agrees. He and his team of four veterinarians work hard to keep pigs at their best but never forget their role in keeping consumers healthy.

In each of the barns, they assess pigs’ health, administer vaccinations and develop strategies to keep animals as healthy as possible. And sometimes, when a pig becomes ill, they need to treat it with an antibiotic.

“Despite some public misconceptions, the pork industry is careful to use medications effectively and responsibly, always keeping the consumer in mind,” Thomas said. “We fine-tune our antibiotic use, targeting its use when an animal needs it and when there will be a measurable benefit. And we take great measures to ensure that there is no residue in the meat.”

Safest Food Supply

Sprague said, “Sending healthy animals to harvest reduces the risk of contamination and continues producers’ legacy of providing the safest food in the world.”

Many farms that Sprague serves post the We CareSM principles in their offices.

“We Care emphasizes the producers’ commitment to doing the right thing, including guarding public health,” Sprague said. “It gives pig farmers common goals to rally behind and to strive for every day.”

We Care emphasizes how people, animals and environmental health are connected. This also is reflected in the One Health Initiative, which forges collaborations between physicians, veterinarians and other health care professionals.

“Veterinarians’ role in One Health is to reduce the incidence and severity of zoonotic and foodborne illnesses,” Sprague said. “It’s exciting to be practicing with so many tools, resources and information to simultaneously improve lives of people, animals and the planet.”

Public Health

Michelle Sprague joins other veterinarians in working with pig farmers to protect public health.

Producers affirm our obligation to ensure our practices protect public health.

  • Use management practices consistent with producing safe food.
  • Manage the use of animal health products to protect public health.
  • Manage manure and air quality to protect public health.