As the world turns — the war on meat

By Dr. Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, Director of the Center for Food Animal Wellbeing, University of Arkansas

Reprinted from

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

Those of us working in the animal agriculture industry are aware that we are being attacked from all sides for many reasons – animal welfare, antibiotic use – environmental issues – employee safety. I am aware that in each of these categories, major efforts have been and continue to be made to continuously improve. And, there has indeed been significant improvement over the last 30+ years. This ongoing struggle is in the midst of advances in technology that have led to such abundance that U.S. food can be shipped to other countries.

Some of the countries receiving this food have not been expected to pay as the humanitarian need is so overwhelming. This need has led to several companies and organizations such as Heifer International and private industries such as Cobb-Vantress and Elanco developing projects that are transferring technology to these countries so they can improve their conditions. The results have been impressive.

In one project Hormel worked with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to investigate supplementing traditional diets with high-quality protein and micronutrients. The product, named “SPAMMY” was a fortified poultry product.

In a study that took place in Guatemala, preschool age children were fed fortified or unfortified “SPAMMY” on school days for 20 weeks. All of these children showed greater-than-expected improvement in cognitive scores; missed 44 percent fewer days due to illness along with some other nutritional benefits. Similar results have been reported from the OneEgg project in Rwanda. In this project, six year old students were given a single boiled egg as a mid-morning snack.

In both cases, efforts are being made to develop more sources of high quality protein. There is significant excitement about the effect of animal protein on the development of children. We have already heard from many sources that as economies improve the demand for animal protein increases. These examples certainly explain why that is the case. The benefits are clear.

I do not think that we will go backwards in time as some wish and others predict because, like it or not, we know the benefits and want the best for our children and grandchildren. I’m happy that my grandchildren can have eggs and bacon for breakfast before they head out to school.
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