Last week, Mars, Incorporated opened the doors of its $15 million Global Food Safety Center in China, a first-of-its-kind facility for pre-competitive research and training that aims to raise global food safety standards through collaboration.
“Food safety is a global issue that concerns us all—business, governments, academics and the world’s population,” says Grant Reid, president and CEO of Mars.
Mars, Inc.—known for its popular brands M&M’S, Snickers, Uncle Ben’s and Pedigree—is headquartered in Virginia and boasts more than $33 billion in sales from its businesses in the pet care, chocolate, Wrigley, food, drinks and symbioscience segments. The new center is meant to be a place where governments, academics, regulators and industry peers can come together and address food safety.
With an emphasis on pre-competitive research and collaborative solutions, the food safety center will utilize insights and expertise from more than 60 Mars partnerships dedicated to innovative, sustainable and responsible food safety practices. The World Food Programme (WFP), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) and the IBM/Mars Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain are some of the organizations Mars is partnering with to solve the challenge of food safety and supply for a growing world population.
“Unlike an R&D or innovation center focused on product development and improvement, the Mars Global Food Safety Center is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to advancing food safety research through collaboration and the pre-competitive sharing of information,” says David Crean, vice president, corporate R&D, Mars. “We firmly believe that to ensure generations of families have access to safe and nutritious food, we must work together to evolve food safety management programs and create robust, sustainable supply chains.”
Located north of Beijing in Huairou, China, the center will employ approximately 30 people working on food safety research and training; a number of sabbatical positions are open to academic and regulatory researchers. Mars says it selected the location because of China’s role in the global marketplace and as a way to leverage the scientific focus the region is currently bringing to food supply and safety issues. The facility will house analytical chemistry and microbiology laboratories, interactive training laboratories and a conference auditorium to enhance knowledge sharing. Through scientific forums, media platforms and events, the Mars Global Food Safety Center will promote the findings of its work to help advance others’ research efforts.