17 Years of Local and Global Capacity Building

Participants of the 2002 Farm to Table program in Minnesota


The Center for Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) grew out of two high-profile public health issues related to animal health and food safety. The first, and outbreak of E. coli traced to Jack in the Box restaurants, occurred in 1993. It was the largest E. coli outbreak in American history at the time, killing four people and sickening hundreds of others.

The second incident occurred a few years later, when scientists recognized a new human disease: variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, which is related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. Both high profile public health issues sent shock waves through the agricultural community and consumers.

The events convinced Minnesota policy makers, government agencies, veterinarians, and public health officials that these groups need to work together to combat emerging threats to food safety.

In 2001, the College of Veterinary Medicine responded by forging partnerships with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; Extension Service; School of Public Health; and Medical School. With the aid of $500,000 from the Minnesota legislature, the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety was launched. Will Hueston, DVM, PhD, became the first director of CAHFS.

Growth and Development

CAHFS has expanded considerably since 2001. Initially the Center had one full time faculty member and one full time staff employee. Now, the Center engages 15 veterinary public health faculty and 7 staff members as well as graduate students, residents, fellows, and senior fellows. Funding has also increased. In only 10 years between 2006-2016, more than $17 million was raised in grants, gifts, affiliation agreements, and external sales.

Since 2001, several initiatives and organizations have grown out of CAHFS, including:

These many initiatives have allowed CAHFS to accomplish its core mission of creating and facilitating strong working relationships among food systems professionals & organizations, governmental entities, public agencies, and academia, to anticipate emerging animal health and food safety issues affecting public health.


The Center for Animal Health and Food Safety has been expertly guided throughout the years by:

  • William Hueston, DVM, PhD: 2001-2007
  • Jeffrey Bender, DVM, PhD: 2007-2012
  • Linda Valeri, MBA: 2012-2016
  • Scott Wells, DVM, PhD: 2012-2017
  • Andrés Perez, DVM, PhD: 2017 – present

By the Numbers

Through a variety of in-person, online, experiential learning, training, and graduate courses, CAHFS has delivered expert learning experiences to a wide range of students, faculty, professionals, researchers, and practitioners.

DVM/MPH Program

  • 132 total graduates
  • 19 participating institutions
  • 137 currently enrolled students

VPHPM Residency Program

  • 41 residents completed program
  • 34 completed MPH degree
  • 93% ACVPM board certified

Performance of Veterinary Service

  • 15 graduate courses
  • 150+ student participants
  • 20 faculty experts

Experiential Learning Programs

  • 75 programs delivered
  • 10+ countries visited

In total...
2,176 participants from 60+ countries

Check out a timeline of our accomplishments on our History page

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CAHFS News is a compilation of current topics and news updates in animal health, food safety, and veterinary public health.