FAO and Mars join forces to strengthen food safety

Partnership will focus on enhancing traceability systems

20 October 2015, Rome - FAO and Mars Incorporated, one of the largest global food manufacturers, will work together to achieve better food safety and quality along the food chains especially in developing countries.

The two organizations have signed a partnership agreement 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.

Under the agreement, Mars will support FAO's food safety program by providing access to food safety data and by providing experts in key areas such as traceability.

Managing mycotoxin risks

The FAO-Mars collaboration will also focus on reducing food safety risks related to mycotoxin contamination. Mycotoxins, toxic substances for humans and animals, can be produced by certain fungi and may be found in all staple crops, such as maize, wheat and sorghum. Limiting the intake of mycotoxins is a critical factor to improve public health and animal health globally. 

The data and knowledge related to mycotoxin contamination developed by Mars Inc. would 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.

"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.

Dave Crean, Vice President, Corporate Research and Development, at Mars said: "This agreement with FAO is very important for Mars and a further example of our mutual way of working and our commitment to open to open and multidisciplinary collaborations. Unsafe food kills thousands of people every day, and damages the economies of developing nations. We are committed to working collaboratively to address food safety in the context of food security. Put simply, we believe if it's not safe it's not food."

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
Dave Crean, Vice President, Corporate Research and Development, at Mars, and Ren Wang, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, at a signing ceremony at FAO headquarters.