Vet Med Students 2010 Study Abroad in Germany

Vet Med Students 2010 Study Abroad in Germany

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  • A Trip to Hannover's Veterinary College (June 8, 2010)

    We began our morning by having breakfast at our hotel in Hannover. Some of the students ran or walked in the forest preserve before or after breakfast. Then we all loaded in the van to head to the veterinary college in Hannover.

    Click to enlargeOur first lecture of the morning was by Professor Klein on food hygiene. He explained that veterinary students in Germany spend hundreds of hours learning this subject, which is very different from veterinary school in the US. About 30 % of veterinarians in Germany work in this field and about 50% have something to do with this field. This is also a drastic difference from veterinarians in the US. In Germany, students and veterinarians understand that food safety is important and there is much effort to collaborate among the other fields of veterinary medicine. In general there is strong support for the “farm to plate” concept.

    Students have many courses and lab courses on food hygiene. Their labs include meat inspection, checking lymph nodes, and inspecting fresh and canned products. Other fields also participate in food inspection including biology, chemistry, and human medicine. Once veterinary students have had their classes and labs in food safety, they take combined lessons with other disciplines to determine whether an animal is eligible for slaughter. All students must participate in the food safety program of the veterinary college, because there is no specialization before the examination. If some students have further interest in food safety they can specialize in the Public Health program at the veterinary college.

    We then continued on in the morning with a discussion about Food Laws in Germany with Dr. Carsten Werner. There is a difference between food laws in Germany and the US, not only in the individual laws, but because Germany must also follow the European Union Food Laws as well. As American students, we were very interested to learn how German laws and EU laws were enforced together. Dr. Werner explained that ten years ago, the EU made changes to the laws. He also explained that the laws were changed, but not modernized. The changes were based on the food to fork concept. Due to these changes, there were further demarcations on duties and traceability of food products. This lowers the risk at the consumer level. The objective of the EU is to have free trade, so therefore all food products must have the same standards.

     To understand how laws are made in the EU, Dr. Werner described the four different institutions of the EU (European Council, Council, Commission, and Parliament) and gave a brief description of what they do. He also defined for us regulations which take immediate effect and directives which must be achieved, but the states can choose how. We learned the difference between the EU White Book of Food Safety and the German Food and Feed Law Book. Food was defined as any substance or product (processed/unprocessed) that is intended for ingestion by humans. Dr. Werner then described how food law is determined from risk analysis. The European Food Safety Authority located in Parma, Italy performs the risk analysis for the EU. The European Union also has a rapid alert system that notifies the public of a direct or indirect risk from food. If there ever was a food outbreak, the EU would hold the food operators responsible based on HACCP principles (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).

     We learned that trade with 3rd countries has to be from a list of specified countries and that those countries have to have comparable food regulations. This means that chicken in the United States does not fit those requirements because the US disinfects poultry carcasses and uses hormones.

    Our next speaker of the morning, Dr. Nils Grabowski, discussed milk hygiene. He began by discussing the governmental regulations of milk and milk products. He went into methods used in Germany as control measures. Many of the control measures they use in Germany are the same that we learn in the US. We learned about the different milk pumps used in the past and the advantages and disadvantages of each. We also discussed the consumption of raw milk and what regulations the government uses for disease control. We concluded the morning by breaking for lunch at the cafeteria of the veterinary college.

    Click to enlargeThe afternoon began with learning about PCR and real time PCR. Germany does not allow the consumption of pork from male pigs, so they regularly sex the meat for control measures. We had a lab where we practiced our PCR skills. We also watched a video on how PCR works. At the end of the lab, we saw the results of PCR and real time PCR for testing they had done previously on pork. This afternoon laboratory was very interesting for us, because we do not routinely sex meat in the United States.

    After our lab, we were given a tour of the new small animal hospital of the veterinary school by Dr. Andrea Tipold. We were very impressed by the layout of the hospital and biosecurity measures that were taken. For example, the floors were painted different colors to represent sterile surgery and unsterile areas. As students we were also impressed by the rooms they had for students to stay in overnight and by the extremely comfortable lecture hall. The horse clinic is also located next to the small animal clinic, so we were able to get a tour of their facilities as well. They had beautiful stables with outdoor access for many of their patients. The horse clinic also had good biosecurity measures. For example, they had isolation stables that were located far from the other stables used for patients. All in all, we were very impressed by their new hospital for companion animals.

    That evening, the students went to dinner at a Turkish restaurant in town. We all had a lovely meal and enjoyed talking with the locals and being in the beautiful downtown.

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