Ivar Vågsholm

Ivar Vågsholm


It started with a dream, to work in medicine, live close to nature and to be able to see the results of my own work. The local vet in Tonsberg, Norway spoke warmly of the veterinary profession in vocational guidance in high school and it seemed to be the right path. Veterinary studies were focused on studying the details of curing animals and understanding diseases. But questions such as: What can veterinary medicine contribute to animal and human health? How do you prevent animals from getting sick? Which risks are important and why? grew more important during my studies. Epidemiology, preventive medicine and food became subjects I was privileged to work with in depth as a trained veterinarian. Issues I have worked with range from zoonoses, mad cow disease, food safety and fish farming to the assessment and management of risks to public and animal health and welfare.

If you want to make the greatest possible impact and simultaneously use your entire education, the EU committees of experts is the right place to be. I have been there from 1997 and seen how the EU's work on food safety has become more evidence-based, and how infections such as salmonella have been brought under control.


  • Veterinary training, DFZ course - international veterinary, food and public health organizations
  • Course on Infection Biology - food security, challenges for the food industry, zoonoses
  • Veterinary Training - Food Safety, risk analysis, investigation of outbreaks



  • Veterinary public health and epidemiology
  • Food safety risk assessment novel foods
  • Revision of meat inspection
  • Risk management and control of biological hazards and zoonoses
  • Control research


Veterinary contributions to food safety and zoonotic agents - interdisciplinary cooperation in the EU

Food safety can be understood in two ways: that food is safe to eat (food safety) or that it is available in sufficient quantity (food security). Control of infectious diseases is a prerequisite for food security. The first veterinary school in Lyon was established nearly 250 years ago, as a result of the cattle plague that caused mass mortality among cattle in Europe. Over the past 50 years, after the great eruption in Alvesta, control of salmonella and salmonella-free foods has been a Swedish specialization. Food safety has historically been the area where the contribution by veterinarians has been most appreciated by society.

A particular challenge is all the new zoonotic agents, emerging diseases, which are appearing and that can often be transmitted through food. Over the past 30 years, we have seen new food-borne infections such as Campylobacter, in broilers and drinking water, and EHEC. We have also seen Yersinia and Listeria, which can grow at refrigerator temperature, viruses contaminated raspberries and Salmonella enteritis that can be transmitted through raw eggs. From mad cow disease we learned that food safety concerns the entire food chain, from farm to table. What happens in fodder production plants affects the safety of the consumer who ultimately eats the meat.

The challenges in my area of food safety require that we work interdisciplinary. Experts from many disciplines must work together to assess risks and suggest solutions to problems. The EU has now set up scientific expert committees to develop advice on issues of food safety and animal welfare. The conclusions of these expert opinions are often found in the prefaces to EU legislation. This effort makes great use of the EU, and is based on the highest scientific quality.

Several SLU researchers have made important contributions to both food safety and animal welfare in the EU over the past 15 years.

A challenge for research is the control of infectious agents in circular systems where food waste and by-products are transformed into new sources of protein, biogas and raw materials for the chemical industry. The challenge is to avoid the cycle of nutrients becomes a cycle of infectious agents. Figure 1 illustrates this.

An important part of my work is to contribute to a European specialization in food safety and preventive veterinary medicine. This takes place within the framework of the European College of Veterinary Public Health, where veterinary colleagues can apply to become a European specialist in veterinary public health after 3 years of training. Currently, five colleagues have started the training in Sweden. Three of these work within the National Food Agency, which is an example of collaboration between SLU and authorities in shaping the future of veterinary medicine.

How do we avoid future circular food system becomes a circular reinforcement of pathogens?


Research in veterinary public health and preventive veterinary medicine

The main thrust of both my research and my work has been veterinary public health and preventive veterinary medicine. It has focused on, for example, the control of infectious salmon anemia in Norway, the planning of the eradication program for Aujeszky's disease in pigs in Sweden, monitoring of mad cow disease (BSE) and Salmonella in the EU, as well as control of EHEC (enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli. Strains of the intestinal bacterium E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea in humans) in ruminants, review of Swedish salmonella control and possibilities for control of Campylobacter in broilers.

Research in food safety and security

SLUmat is one of SLU's internal platforms for collaboration in the food sector. SLUmat was founded in 2010 and is a 5-year strategic initiative aimed at strengthening the food area at SLU, fostering internal collaboration and making visible the collective and unique expertise of the entire university. SLUmat work is based on the vision of SLU to be an internationally leading university in the areas of quality, environment and health in relation to food and production of food commodities. 

Current research

European College of Veterinary Public Health

European Food Safety Authority




• Born in Ålesund, on the west coast of Norway.

• After graduating in Tønsberg in 1978 and graduated philosoficum at the University of Oslo, I followed the veterinary program at the Norwegian Veterinærhøgskole in Oslo

• PhD at the University of California at Davis with a focus on epidemiology and economics, 1989.

• Veterinary Officer for animal health and zoonoses in Brussels 1992-1995.

• Member of the EU and later the European Food Safety Authority's Scientific Expert panels on Veterinary Public health, Biological hazards and Animal Health and Welfare 1997-2015

• Taught in epidemiology at SLU since 1991 and adjunct professor in this topic since 2003

• 1997-2006: Head of Zoonosis Center at the National Veterinary Institute (SVA).

• Professor of Food Safety since September 1, 2009



Can work in Swedish, Norwegian and English. Can read simple texts and make myself understood in simple contexts in German, French and Italian.



  • Ann Lindberg, epidemiology and control of BVDV, completed June 2002.
  • Sofia Boqvist, epidemiology for leptospirosis control, completed June 2002.
  • Helene Wahlstrom, Epidemiology of TB and Modelling, October 2004.
  • Helena Höök, Campylobacter epidemiology and control, October 2005
  • Karl Ståhl (Peru bovine viral diseases EBLV, BVDV, IBR), June 2006
  • Ingrid Hansson, campylobacter control program, May 2007.
  • Desiree Jansson, brachyspira epidemiology in Birds, March 2009.
  • Marie Mörk, validation of the disease reporting systems in dairy cattle, October 2009
  • Erik Eriksson, Epidemiology of VTEC O157, Jan 2010
  • Maria Nöremark, Network analysis of animal flows - simulation of outbreaks of epizootic diseases, March 2010
  • Julia Österberg, Epidemiology of salmonella, November 2010
  • Oskar Nilsson, Epidemiology of VRE, broilers, June 2011.
  • Camilla Wallander, Toxoplasma, food safety and epidemiology
  • Karin Söderqvist, Yersinia enterocolitica, epidemiology and control

Residents ECVPH ongoing

Population medicine

Dr Arja Kautto

Food Science

Dr Naser Shah Arzoomand

Dr Christian Berking

Dr Emma Bergenkvist

Dr Madeleine Moazzami

Diplomate ECVPH population medicine


Susanna Sternberg-Lewerin, professor epizootology SLU

Publikationer i urval

Söderqvist K, Lambertz ST, Vågsholm I, Fernström LL, Alsanius B, Mogren L,Boqvist S, 2017. Fate of Listeria monocytogenes , Pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica , and Escherichia coli O157:H7 gfp(+) in Ready-to-Eat Salad during Cold Storage:What Is the Risk to Consumers? J Food Prot. 80(2):204-212. doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-308.

Kautto AH, Vågsholm I, Niskanen R, 2017. Meat inspection of reindeer - a rich source of data for monitoring food safety and animal and environmental health in Sweden. Infect Ecol Epidemiol. 7(1):1340695. doi: 10.1080/20008686.2017.1340695.

Söderqvist K, Ahmed Osman O, Wolff C, Bertilsson S, Vågsholm I, Boqvist S, 2017. Emerging microbiota during cold storage and temperature abuse of ready-to-eat salad​. Infect Ecol Epidemiol. 7(1):1328963. doi:10.1080/20008686.2017.1328963.

Hartmann R, Mogren L, Rosberg AK, Grudén M, Vågsholm I, Olsson C, Fricke A, Stützel H, Alsanius B, 2017. Impact of the source of organic manure on persistence of E. coli O157:H7 gfp+ in rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) and Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris cicla). Food Control, 81:200-210. doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2017.06.007

Boqvist S, Söderqvist K, Vågsholm I, 2018. Food safety challenges and One Health within Europe. Acta Vet Scand  (2018) 60:1.

Huyben D, Boqvist S, Passoth V, Renström L, Bengtsson UA, Andréoletti O, Kiessling A, Lundh T and Vågsholm I, 2018. Screening of intact yeasts and cell extracts to reduce Scrapie prions during biotransformation of food waste. Acta Vet Scand 2018 60:9.

Professor vid Institutionen för biomedicin och veterinär folkhälsovetenskap (BVF); Enheten för bakteriologi och livsmedelssäkerhet
Telefon: 018-672378
BVF, Bakteriologi och livsmedelssäkerhet, Box 7036
Besöksadress: Ulls väg 26, Uppsala