Tackling Food Security and Safety Issues – Mars, Incorporated
Food Safety & Security

Tackling Food Safety & Security at Mars

Mitigating Food Risks Around the World

Today, some 14% of the global population – one billion people – are chronically hungry, and more than one-third of the global population is affected by single or multiple micronutrient deficiencies. And despite what the world knows about the importance of food safety, 1 in 10 people on our planet suffer from eating unsafe foods.

There is no dispute that the safety of the foods we consume influences nutrition, health and wellbeing, cognitive capability and economic opportunities that shape national and global development. Unsafe foods have debilitating human, economic and social consequences.

To put this in context, approximately 4.5 billion people a year are exposed to mycotoxins, including aflatoxins, found on agricultural crops and contaminate 25% of the world’s food supply, resulting in $600 million to $1 billion in lost earnings. Food safety is an essential and dynamic element of food security, with new threats emerging that require urgent action by developed and developing countries. The bottom-line, if food isn’t safe, it isn’t food.

Our goal is to play a role in combating undernutrition and other causes of unsafe foods around the world, and particularly in low-income countries.

Our Food Safety & Security Action Plan

We’re taking a vigilant stand to mitigate these risks – using science and collaborative partnership to make an impact for all value chains. From agricultural production-harvesting, to processing and packaging, and even how consumers store, handle and consume our food products, Mars is taking key actions to ensure safety and security for all populations, especially those at risk of malnutrition.

The Mars Global Food Safety Center

The Mars Global Food Safety Center (GFSC), which opened in Huairou, China, in September 2015, is a global hub and state-of-the-art research and training facility designed to drive a global focus on addressing food safety challenges through partnerships and collaborations on a pre-competitive basis. The center serves as a platform and a catalyst to build partnerships with governments, academia, non-governmental organizations and industry stakeholders as we work together to ensure safer food for all.

Scientific Agricultural Advancement

Across our business segments, we’re using science to advance agricultural productivity and improve food security. In places like rural Africa where communities grow most of what they eat, we believe there is an opportunity to produce crop varieties that are more nutritious, higher yielding and more resistant in the face of climate change, drought and pests.

The African Orphan Crop Consortium

Grown out of a concept suggested by our Chief Agricultural Officer, The African Orphan Crop Consortium (AOCC) is based on the premise that there is great potential in sequencing and annotating the genomes of African crops central to the culture and diet of hundreds of millions of African farmers, but not important to international trade, thus they’ve been orphaned within the global food system.

Through the AOCC, scientists are coming together to sequence the genomes of 101 crops, train plant breeders from countries across Africa and secure funding to advance the science and its implementation. The resulting information will be put in the public domain.

Improving African agriculture has the potential to eradicate the stunting caused by malnutrition which affects some 30% of all African children and costs Africa nearly $125 billion a year.

Collaborative Research & Innovation

We also work closely with several organizations that add value, expertise and input on our programs to support food security and tackle undernutrition in developing countries. For instance, in early 2015, we announced a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tata Trusts to, among other initiatives, conduct joint research on nutritional guidelines that can help address anemia and other forms of malnutrition.

We have also undertaken a number of Food Safety initiatives that will bolster the food supplies of other countries. One example is our collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP) to share and develop manufacturing protocols and standards for the manufacture of nutritionally dense foods intended for distribution to populations severely impacted by hunger and malnutrition. These standards, as well as fortification guidelines, will be implemented across the WFP distribution network in 2017 and validated against their supplier protocols.

We’ve worked hard to fine-tune the way we maintain high quality standards at Mars. And now, we’re teaming up with global organizations to share our knowledge with them, as well as to learn from them. By taking an open and collaborative approach, we can help raise global food safety standards as part of our mutual goal of safer food for all. Together with the World Food Programme (WFP), we’ve been supporting procurement experts with food safety training, risk assessments, and insight on managing food safety in dry production environments. And in 2017, we plan to work with WFP to develop better quality checks during the manufacture of nutritious food for children.