World-leading food safety specialist to speak at BVA Members’ Day 2017

08 May 2017

Vets and scientists’ crucial role in tackling food fraud, food safety and food security will be one of the key messages from Professor Chris Elliott’s keynote speech at this year’s BVA Members’ Day in Belfast on 21 September.

Speaking at BVA’s annual Members' Day, to be held at award-winning science and discovery centre ‘W5 at the Odyssey’, Professor Elliott will discuss One Health from a food safety perspective. He will also share, with the 100-plus Members’ Day attendees, his reflections on the Government’s independent review into weaknesses in the UK’s food supply networks, which he was commissioned to lead following the 2013 horsemeat scandal.

Professor Elliott’s journey to the study of food safety and integrity began on his family’s beef cattle farm in Northern Ireland, where he worked as a child. Now Professor of Food Safety and founder of the Institute for Global Food Security and Pro Vice Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Elliott has been active in research related to the accidental and deliberate contamination of the global food supply system for more than 30 years; publishing more than 350 papers in the field of detection and control of chemical contaminants in agri-food commodities. Chris now leads a multinational research project aimed at developing better food safety standards across the EU and China.

Professor Elliott said:
“I am delighted to be invited to give this address at BVA Members’ Day in September. While we all eat food, we often don’t know quite what it is, and we don’t know where it comes from - supply chains have become very complex. The competitive nature of the food business means that operators work on very small profit margins and corners can be cut in relation to safety, quality and integrity.

“Our research is dedicated to ensuring that the food delivered to people’s tables is safe, of high quality and authentic. Our approach has been to try to identify the contamination in the food supply chain as early as possible, so we go right back to the primary crops that are produced to try to identify any problems related to man-made or natural contamination.

"Our shared challenge is to prove to the public that they can trust the systems that put food on their plate."

Shared challenges’ will also appear in the outgoing BVA President Gudrun Ravetz’s speech as she looks back at a year where the veterinary profession developed its Brexit response and recommendations, the Veterinary Surgeons Act is considered being re-opened, and where the BVA President championed ‘the veterinary family’ – encouraging the profession to work together at all levels in order to achieve, identify opportunities, and find practical solutions to challenges.

British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz said:
"It is a privilege to have Professor Elliott address us at BVA Members' Day. This past year, the contribution of the UK veterinary workforce to, not only the One Health agenda, but to food safety and hygiene as well as animal health, welfare and public health has never been so important – particularly with the advent of Brexit. Chris’ research encompasses all of these areas of work delivered by different areas of our profession, and is the kind of R&D activity that holds up the UK’s reputation as a key country where research is conducted to the highest global standard.”

Professor Elliott is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Biology. His speech is part of a day that celebrates the achievements of the veterinary profession and includes BVA's prestigious awards ceremony. BVA awards are given in recognition of the various ways its members contribute to the advancement of the profession, and recognises the commitment of students and recent graduates who have undertaken research projects overseas.

BVA’s AGM will also be held on the day, during which the new BVA officer team will be elected with John Fishwick nominated by BVA Council to become President, Simon Doherty nominated by BVA Council to become Junior Vice President, and Gudrun Ravetz to become Senior Vice President.

BVA Media Office