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UN and Mars, Incorporated Sign New Food Safety Agreement: “Collaboration is Key”

Food and Agriculture Organization & Mars join forces to strengthen food safety

01/25/2016

“If it’s not safe, it’s not food,” said Mars, Incorporated Vice President of Corporate Research & Development Dave Crean this week, upon signing a new partnership agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “We want to make sure that all food, around the world, is safe and sustainable.”

Dave’s comments came as food industry and public policy leaders gathered in Rome at the UN FAO’s Committee on Food Security (CFS42) to discuss the global crisis of food safety. Speaking at a Mars-convened side-event on industry collaboration, Dave expanded on the nature of the crisis and why collaboration is key: “Unsafe food kills thousands of people every day and damages the economies of developing nations in serious, lasting ways. Our agreement with FAO is a very important step towards doing something about this crisis. And only through open, collaborative, multi-discipline approaches like this will we be able to address the problem in a meaningful way.”

Mars, Incorporated will work together with the FAO to make food safer across the globe, but especially in developing countries. We aim to do this by promoting international standards for food safety and quality, improving food safety management to reduce illness caused by unsafe food, and improving global access to information. The plan is to share our expertise and data, helping the FAO to identify food safety issues early, as well as to develop tools that will help support food safety programs in developing countries.

“Partnership with the private sector to improve food safety globally is critical. FAO recognizes this and engages with the food industry at national and international levels to both leverage and disseminate knowledge that will promote effective food safety practices along the food chain,” said Ren Wang, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department. “Food safety is complex and addressing food safety issues requires a multi-sectorial approach. Partnership with Mars can strengthen our message to countries that food safety is best achieved through effective public-private partnership,” he added.

The side-event at CFS42 focused on improving industry and government coming together to tackle food safety. Experts from the Ghanaian Ministry of Food & Agriculture, the World Food Programme, PACA, the FAO, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition joined Mars to discuss ways we can collaborate to eliminate the threat of alfatoxins in the food chain--which cause preventable deaths and illness and destroy crops.

The partnership with the FAO is the latest in a number of recent Mars projects which focus on the significant public health challenge of food safety:

  • In September, we opened the Global Food Safety Center in China. The pioneering $15 million facility will help bring together governments, academics, regulators and industry peers to innovatively collaborate on the challenge of global food safety - leading to better access, availability and nutrition, as well as reduced food waste and an increase in overall quality of life.
  • In April this year, Mars and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced a new partnership that will provide more safe, locally-sourced food to those in need in Africa.
  • In January, we established a collaborative food safety platform with IBM Research--the “Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain”--that will investigate how genomics can make food safer.
  • In January, in partnership with UC Davis, we announced a new Innovation Institute that will bring together the right expertise needed for targeted innovation at scale to tackle complex sustainability challenges related to food, agriculture and health.
  • To learn more about our work in food safety and security, click here.