Thursday 23 May 2019

Food safety students 'mortified' watching calves being delivered

UCD Professor of Public Health, Paddy Wall.
UCD Professor of Public Health, Paddy Wall.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

"Mortified" students can't stomach the reality of modern farm life such as cows calving, according to a leading UCD professor.

Dr Paddy Wall, professor of public health at the university, said there has been a drop in the popularity of farm visits among his food safety masters students, some of whom are alarmed at everyday farm practises.

"The farm visits used to be really popular but I've noticed a trend that the students don't like them anymore. We went to a dairy farm where they saw a farmer calving a cow and they saw the calf getting jacked out.

"On the following Monday they wanted me to ring up the Department of Agriculture and report the farmer for cruelty, but this is something we as farmers see all the time.

"We have to be aware there's a big disconnect between consumers and us," he said.

Dr Wall was speaking at the IFA Smart Farming Seminar yesterday. He said students were "mortified" by what they had seen on another visit to a beef farm.

Stock photo.
Stock photo.

"Last year, we went to a beef farm and there was a massive Belgian Blue bull there and I thought this was some bull, really good.

"The farmer was explaining that he had seven cows and they all had to have Caesarean sections. They all had three to five sections," said Dr Wall.

"On the Monday the students gave feedback and they were mortified and asking me why are the farmers creating cows that can't have a calf normally. They said that shouldn't be allowed."

Dr Wall said he was not "losing sleep" over the fact future food safety professionals were not finding the farm visits as enjoyable.

Instead he said it is up to farmers to find ways to connect with detached consumers and combat "aggressive" vegan advertising campaigns.

"Consumers believe small is good and big is evil. When you buy half a dozen eggs they don't show you chickens in a big house, they show you them running around outside," he added.

"The aggressive campaigns out there that say 'clean up your arteries and go vegan' is what the public is being bombarded with and those signs are on every bus shelter in Dublin. We need to counteract that message.

"If we didn't have any customers we wouldn't have any businesses.

"There's a disconnect between customers and how our food is produced and that is getting wider and wider," he added.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News