Livestock producers should no longer consider themselves simply a link in the food chain. They are an active player in the human health business.

Dr. Patrick Wall, University College Dublin, Ireland, stressed the importance of food safety in feeding today’s growing population during his presentation, “Grasping the New Reality- Enough is Enough” at Alltech’s 29th Annual International Symposium. The former veterinarian, medical doctor, businessman and European Food Safety Authority chairman said the curtain hasn’t fallen on food scares and that every day a chronology of food scares and recalls show up in the media.

Wall said that working in the agri-food sector can be tumultuous, with outbreaks such as the 2001 United Kingdom foot and mouth epidemic, the 2008 dioxin crisis, H1N1 in 2009, and now the Chinese avian flu and the PAN-European horsemeat scandal.

According to Wall, broken trust costs money. Tesco lost at least $300 million Euros in market value overnight after the horsemeat scandal leaked to the media.

“Your jobs are so important. If something goes wrong in the food chain, the repercussions are huge. Everything an animal eats – so do we,” Wall said. “It takes millions of dollars and years to build a brand, but can take a few seconds to destroy it.”