The Mars Global Food Safety Center (GFSC) is proud to lend its support to the first ever annual World Food Safety Day (WFSD)
To celebrate the first ever annual World Food Safety Day (WFSD), we feature a blog by Mars GFSC Research Scientist, Jason Xu, in which he talks about his career and passion for global food safety.
Food safety is a complex issue. It is multi-sector, multidisciplinary and geographically wide-spread, and there are an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses each year. Not only do these pose a threat to human health and the economy, they also disproportionately impact the more vulnerable members of our society. An issue of such complexity requires state of the art science and technology to tackle it.
Despite - or perhaps because of this complexity - food safety science is something I am passionate about. As a Research Scientist at the Mars Global Food Safety Center, food safety science is at the center of everything I do. I apply my scientific background to issues that impact consumers and businesses, as well as the entire food supply chain.
I earned a Bioengineering degree in Nanjing, China and went on to study food science at University of Massachusetts Amherst, before graduating with a Ph.D in 2015. At first, I was unsure about the transition from university to industry. However, I realized the importance of applying scientific knowledge into practice and hoped to find an opportunity that would enable me to apply my scientific mind-set to address broader industry or societal problems.
Thanks to Mars, my transition from academia to industry could not have gone better. Not only am I able to use my scientific background on a daily basis, but I am learning about Mars from a business perspective, which is expanding my potential.
The work environment at the GFSC is excellent. We have state-of-the-art equipment at the cutting edge of science and technology, and talented scientists working on very exciting projects.
I am involved in developing new scientific methods that help tackle the food safety problems the world faces today. My research on food integrity is focussed on developing scientific techniques that will allow us to effectively manage food safety risks in the future. I design experiments to discover new methods that will help manage food fraud risks and test the authenticity of ingredients, which is important work when you consider the estimated $40 billion cost of food fraud to the global industry ever year!
I am currently working on establishing new fingerprinting methods that we can use to test rice authenticity. The project aims to develop an accurate and precise method using mass spectrometry, a technique that measures the mass-to-charge ratio of ions, to build a model that can distinguish between adulterated and authentic rice. This method will ensure the authenticity of rice, protecting us from adulterated material. What make this project exciting is its global scale - it is pat of a joint study, focussed on rice fraud prevention and based on fingerprinting technologies, together with Queen's University Belfast (QUB), Agilent Technologies and Zhejiang Yangtze Delta Institute of Tshinghua Unviesity, China.
Mars stands out as an employer, because of its belief that change should be led by the highest standards of scientific and technological insight. The training opportunities at Mars have enabled me to expand my business leadership skills in a way that a career in academia might not have allowed. Industry-focussed training is part of my learning at the GFSC. Mars University, the Mars internal training portal, has provided me with a wealth of resources that I can use to advance my personal development. Educational courses and e-learning modules have helped to broaden my horizons, and access to experts has developed my business strategy.
Working at Mars, I have been able to continually discover my love for science, as well as the application of science in the real world. Mars values diversity of thought, giving associates the opportunity to pursue their own research objectives. This was something that I placed great value on working in academia and treasure to this day. At Mars you have freedom to be who you are and are encouraged to develop your own career path within the business.