One Health: chief vet now chief food safety dude too in Canada

Canada’s chief veterinary officer has been named to an expanded role as the country’s chief food safety officer.

Brian Evans (right, not exactly as shown), who’s been the country’s first and only chief vet since 2004 at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and has also served as the CFIA’s executive vice-president in Ottawa since 2007, was named to the additional post Tuesday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Evans remains chief veterinary officer in his new post, which takes effect June 28.

Evans worked in private practice in Newfoundland and Ontario before being recruited to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a veterinary inspector in 1982, and went on to establish Canada’s regulatory standards for international trade in animal embryos.

By 1997, he was named director of AAFC’s animal health division, and became executive director of CFIA’s animal products directorate the following year.

As chief veterinary officer, Evans is also the government of Canada’s delegate to the 167-member country World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

I have often praised Evans’ public and professional work during Canada’s first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 2003, and Evans (left, exactly as shown, from the Toronto Star) was the first Canadian government official to publicly admit the screw-ups surrounding the flow of information during the listeria outbreak of 2008 which killed 23 people.

“There’s been a lot of hard questions asked … in terms of how we can get information to the public in as timely a way as possible. I accept the criticism that there is a need for us to reflect and to do a much better job of informing (Canadians)."?

The move also strengthens the One Health approach to public health, recognizing that animals, food, ecology and humans are all connected in weird and wily ways that microorganisms seem to have figured out but that we humans are just starting to understand.

Best wishes for a dedicated public servant.