Global Food Safety Center Holds First Training

Expanding global knowledge of food safety management is what our new Global Food Safety Center is all about, so it seems only fitting to celebrate the center’s first big training event.

 Here’s the quick backstory: following the center’s grand opening in September, Mars signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) to help build the capabilities of local food safety inspectors.

 The three-day workshop, named Food Safety Preventative Control Alliance workshop (FSPCA), held in December, was created to support the roll out of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FSMA is a sweeping set of reforms that aim to protect the U.S. food supply by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 48 million Americans (one in six) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. It’s a significant public health burden that’s largely preventable.

 During the training, China’s FDA regulators learned how to create a Food Safety Plan to comply with the Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls for Human Foods rule, as required by the FSMA. Even though they’re not responsible for food exports, the regulators are eager to know more about international food safety law. The training session also introduced key points of the new China Food Safety Law, which strengths the regulation of food companies in China.

 A total of 45 participants successfully finished the training, including 29 from the China FDA, 15 from Mars and one from COFCO (the biggest food company in China). At the end of the course, participants became certified in ‘Food Safety Preventative Controls,’ which the FSMA requires for companies wanting to import food and materials into the U.S.

 Our GFSC Associates co-developed the training module with the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance, a broad-based public private alliance created by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH).  This is the only certification program the FDA recognizes to support FSMA – in fact, this is the first time the training has been offered outside the US.

 By all accounts, the training was well received, with an average evaluation score of 4.5 on a 5-point scale. Meanwhile, 109 media outlets covered the training, reaching general news audiences, as well as those in the business, food and dining, and government sectors. But beyond the numbers, the event showcased our commitment to bringing effective food safety capability building opportunities to the region, which strongly supports our government relations and reputation in China.
 With the first big training event successfully under our belts, we’re already working to develop training on topics like Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), import/export food inspection responsibilities, as well as training for potential industry collaborators, like Nestle’, Danone, COFCO and others.