Doris Mueller-Doblies, Global Food Safety Consultant at Elanco, is responsible for supporting affiliates around the world on Salmonella-related issues, including vaccination, biosecurity. This includes providing global technical support and training for the Elanco team, as well as supporting R&D studies related to Salmonella. Before joining Elanco in 2018, she worked as Head of Salmonella serotyping laboratory of the National Reference Laboratory Salmonella for Great Britain and the OIE Reference Laboratory, APHA in Weybridge, UK.
Describe a typical day in your current role?
One of the most exciting things about my role is that there is no such thing as a typical day; every day is different. Before the Covid pandemic, I spent around 30-40% of my time traveling, visiting colleagues and clients in different parts of the world and supporting them in their efforts to produce safe food – meat. of safe poultry and safe eggs. Since the pandemic, I have been working from my home office, so we had to find new ways to reach our customers. I now spend a lot of time in virtual meetings, talking to clients, giving seminars and conferences online, and trying to provide as much remote assistance as possible. I’m also involved in the interactions with policymakers and with the research and development teams within our company, so this is a good mix of solution-oriented practical work, science and policy. But I can’t wait to go out again, visit farms and spend time with our customers. Face to face contact is something that I have missed a lot over the past two years.
How is your role unique?
I think my background is somewhat unique, as I first spent several years in academia, then 12 years in an OIE government reference laboratory before joining Elanco. This means that I have seen the different aspects and perspectives of disease control and prevention, which has provided me with the foundational knowledge and insights that I can now use to support my branch colleagues and our customers. . My role at Elanco is unique as it gives me the opportunity to use this experience on a daily basis to connect with people all over the world and in all areas of production, and for that I am very grateful. Although the common subject is, in most cases, Salmonella control and Salmonella prevention, each situation and each project are different and require adapted solutions.
What are the main challenges you face in your role?
The biggest challenge, but also the biggest opportunity, is the scope of my role – the fact that I am involved in different projects around the world. While there are sets of problems that are commonly observed, the poultry industry faces different challenges depending on geography, climatic conditions, established husbandry practices and structural parameters. I realize that differences in behavior and communication as well as cultural differences can be difficult at times, and it takes time to learn to read between the lines and to interpret certain behaviors. Listening to our customers and taking their individual situation into account are essential in order to be able to meet their needs.
What does the future of poultry health look like in terms of disease prevention and treatment?
For me, the health of poultry and the health of the consumer are closely linked. As a company, we need to make sure that we provide the poultry industry with solutions to raise healthy, well-managed flocks if we are to produce safe and healthy food. Infection of a herd with a zoonosis Salmonella Serovar, for example, rarely causes disease and rarely has a negative impact on production parameters, but the impact on human health can be significant. That’s why I think we need to include zoonotic pathogens, such as Salmonella Where Campylobacter, more in the general discussion when it comes to poultry health. At Elanco, we are proud to attach great importance to food safety, and we support our customers in this process through tailor-made consulting work, the development and implementation of improvement plans and long-term monitoring of progress. Helping growers identify risk factors and find solutions to mitigate those risks is something we are passionate about, and many times all it takes is an extra pair of eyes to identify risk factors in areas of l hygiene, pest control or biosecurity. However, it is important to give the client the long term perspective that we are with them throughout the process and that our goal is to help them improve in the long term.
Are there any individuals or organizations in the poultry industry that you have found particularly inspiring?
The time I spent at the National Reference Laboratory for Salmonellosis in Weybridge, UK definitely shaped me and stimulated my interest in poultry, as I didn’t have much poultry experience before joining this. team. But in general, I would say that everyone in the industry, who does their job with passion and strives to get better and better every day, should be an inspiration. I have often been touched by the passion of small family farms, which produce in difficult conditions and with little income, but which show so much love for what they do. It can be quite humbling.
Have you encountered challenges as a woman in your field? If so, how did you overcome them?
Sometimes I realize that I am the only woman among an audience of male colleagues, but I never saw that as a problem. Regardless of geography and cultural differences, I have always been treated with respect, because at the end of the day my mission is to help the people I work with, and I think most people realize pretty quickly that i am passionate about what i do. I will always go the extra mile to provide the best support possible, regardless of the size of the project, and I believe this is how I earn the trust of the people I interact with. As my kids were younger, managing work, business travel, and babysitting wasn’t always easy, but it’s a challenge most women face to some degree.
What exceptional challenge for the poultry industry would you most like to take on?
It makes me sad that we as consumers are willing to spend a lot of money on all kinds of things, but when it comes to food of animal origin we want to buy the product the least. expensive possible. This is not fair, and especially in developed countries, we need to get back to the point where we are prepared to devote more of our income to food to ensure that our farmers can afford standards of well- be high and can earn a decent living without relying on subsidies. When I see supermarkets competing on the price of meat, I sometimes wonder if consumers understand how much it costs to raise and feed a chicken, how little profit there is for the producer, and that paying a few pennies more for a chicken could make a big difference to the producer. Consumers usually have no idea about rising feed costs or rising energy costs, to name a few, but for farmers, it’s all about surviving by as a business or not. I think we need to focus on realizing that if we want livestock to be raised to high welfare standards and the resulting feeds to be healthy and safe, we have to accept that high quality has a certain price.
What’s the most exciting innovation you see on the horizon for the poultry industry?
I am excited about the increasing options for determining the sex of in-ovo laying birds, although I must admit that I do not have enough technical knowledge on the details of the different methods, the costs involved, financial viability, etc. Keeping laying birds in production longer due to improved genetics is also an important step in reducing the total number of hens needed. And continuing to reduce the use of antibiotics is an important step that many countries have yet to take. Personally, animal welfare is something that fascinates me. Therefore, new breeding practices and improved housing conditions to provide birds with a more natural environment are exciting opportunities that I would like us to pursue and support more.
What excites you the most over the next 5-10 years about the poultry industry?
For me, sustainability is the biggest challenge for the future, and I am optimistic that the poultry industry will continue to improve in this area. If we are to feed the world with all the challenges we face such as droughts, extreme weather events, floods, rising feed prices etc., the entire livestock industry must become more sustainable. The production of protein from chicken is arguably the most promising of all the breeding options, but there is still a long way to go to improve the sustainability of the poultry industry.
What’s your next challenge?
This is a difficult question to answer. I guess it’s very important to realize that we can’t rest on our laurels, but we have to improve and learn every day as individuals and as a company. If we think we know everything, we’ve lost the game. Living is a constant learning process, and I always try to make time to read articles or other publications to keep up to date with what’s going on. I would say keeping up with the latest developments in my area of expertise is my daily challenge. The other challenge is listening – listening to the farmers who know their animals best and listening to consumers about what they want to buy and eat. When you’ve spent time working on a certain subject, there’s always the danger of not seeing the forest for the trees, so you can’t stop listening to yourself.