The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and Mars Incorporated signed a landmark partnership agreement on Oct. 20, 2015 aimed at promoting international standards for food safety and quality, improving food safety management based on scientific principles to reduce foodborne illness, and facilitating global access to information.
“The partnership’s ultimate goal is to achieve better food safety and quality along the entire food chain, especially in developing countries,” says Ren Wang, PhD, assistant director-general of FAO’s Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department.
Of key importance, under the agreement, Mars, one of the largest global food manufacturers, is supporting FAO’s food safety program by providing access to food safety data, in particular with regard to the occurrence of harmful metabolites from certain fungi (mycotoxins) that can affect important staple crops, such as corn, Dr. Wang points out.
“The data and knowledge related to mycotoxin contamination developed by Mars are expected to be of great benefit in expanding the functionalities of the FAO mycotoxin sampling tool, which has already drawn the interest of a number of member countries, as well as other UN agencies,” Dr. Wang relates. “This sampling tool supports countries in the determination of the average concentration of mycotoxins in important crops, a notoriously difficult problem for food safety authorities.”
Mars will also provide expertise, data, and insights relative to other microbiological foodborne pathogens, including Salmonella, adds Dave Crean, vice president of corporate research and development at Mars.
“Mars will look to provide data relevant to those, and provide experts in key areas such as traceability,” Crean says. “Mars recognizes that a lot of the work it does generates data, and some of that will have direct relevance to FAO as a public health tool, so Mars and FAO are exploring that together.”
About Linda L. Leake, MS
Linda L. Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, registered SQF contract auditor, and award-winning freelance journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Specializing in agriculture, food, food safety, and travel, her articles have appeared in some 89 print and online publications. Along with garnering awards for her articles and photographs, she holds the prestigious Master Writer status with American Agricultural Editors’ Association. Majoring in Dairy Science, she completed a BS in Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Food Safety at Michigan State University. She’s an active member of IAFP, Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc., and the National Dairy Shrine. She’s currently enrolled in the International Development Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reach her at Llleake@aol.com.