Posted By: Alissa Welsher
At Elanco, our passion for healthy, safe animals goes beyond our professional lives. For Food Safety Technical Advisor, Alissa Welsher, Ph.D, her work is also personal. As a scientist, but also as a mom and consumer, the importance of safe food is paramount. Hear from Dr. Welsher on her journey and commitment to ensuring a safer food supply.
How did you get into the food safety and poultry science field?
I really liked human medicine and started as a pre-med major at the University of Pittsburgh. I fell in love with benchtop research and the aspect of discovery, so I thought maybe I should go to graduate school instead of medical school. I had a friend who was a graduate student at the University of Arkansas who told me about a professor who needed a graduate student. He was in the cell and molecular biology department as well as the poultry science department researching mitochondrial diseases and physiology and using poultry as the model. That sounded interesting, so I partnered with him for my graduate work. The field of agriculture offered a sense that I could help elicit change, and I decided to make it my life’s work. I finished my Ph.D. and completed a fellowship with the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, working on alternatives to antibiotics in poultry.
Through your work in agriculture and poultry, what do you do and what kind of fulfillment do you get from your job?
The whole point of going into science for me was to help people. As a medical doctor, you help people, but when you’re working in agriculture, you can see those changes a lot faster and reach a larger population. You can see how the industry moves together to help one another and how those changes affect the industry, and eventually the consumer, for the better. On a more personal level, as a mom, I care that what I do is helping my family’s future. I want to ensure that we all can obtain high-quality, safe, affordable protein.
In food safety, I can help our customers with an issue or problem that directly impacts a large part of the population. I meet with the live production managers, veterinarians, nutritionists, food safety managers and others to devise plans and analyze what is happening in their poultry complexes to ensure healthy birds and safe food when it reaches the end consumer.
What role do your team and Elanco play in ensuring safe food?
As we’re working with live animals and their health, we’re one of the front lines that help to protect consumers. We help make the food chain safer from the beginning with the use of vaccines, bioprotection, nutritional health and the other products/services we offer. It is our duty to help our customers produce safe products.
Senior Consultant - Farm Animal Health