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Identifying And Analyzing Food Safety Risks – The Mars Global Food Safety Center Kicks Off Year Long Learning Program

With the introduction of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in US, which aims to build a food safety system for the future that makes modern, science- and risk-based preventive controls the norm across all sectors of the food system, the need to conduct scientific, systematic risk analysis is becoming ever more important. To help ensure that Mars and other organizations are ready for this new development, the Mars Global Food Safety Center (GFSC) has begun the rollout of an industry-leading global training program to share knowledge, insights and enhance skills around risk analysis.

On 7 August the GFSC launched a brand new, year-long program designed to coach and train food safety practitioners on how to conduct quantitative food safety risk analysis, another initiative to drive knowledge sharing. Leveraging the Mars GFSC’s network, the program is being led by world-renowned risk assessment subject matter experts Dr. Robert Buchanan and Dr. Clare Narrod from the University of Maryland’s Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN). The program includes expert training and rare one-on-one tuition with the experts for a full six months as participants apply their new skills to a relevant, real-life project being run by them in their organization. In total 14 scientists, technologists, researchers and risk assessors from Mars and from outside the business have joined this flagship program. The training of Associates is a key part of the value generated by the GFSC as we strive to tackle global food safety and security challenges as part of Mars’ Sustainable in a Generation program.

The first face to face workshop was held in early August. The participants gathered at the Mars GFSC site in Huairou, Beijing for five days to learn how to identify and analyze risks in selected foods, map out possible analysis tools and risk communication techniques. These technical skills will enable participants to understand how to conduct risk assessment in a systematic way, and how to make cost effective decisions.

“The advantage of this training is that it teaches us how to move from a hazard based system into a risk-based system,” said Lamin Jaiteh, Risk Assessor of the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA).

“As Mars implements FSMA requirements globally, the knowledge of this course will be really practical and helpful,” said Ya Gao, Food Safety Senior Technologist, Mars Wrigley Confection China.

The next steps of this program will include two face-to-face training events and remote mentoring for half a year as the GFSC continues to help improve our own food safety efforts while also benefiting industry through facilitating the sharing of knowledge and expertise.  Our next training event will be Salmonella detection and identification hands-on training in mid-October targeting Mars Associates in the quality and food safety area within the Asia Pacific region.  This training aims to help build Salmonella laboratory analysis capability within Mars. Please contact Cindy Sun at cindy.sun@effem.com if you would like to find out more.