Mars studies reveals importance of food safety and security in supply chains
The Chinese-based Mars Global Food Safety Centre (GFSC) commissioned a survey of more than 1,750 people in the United States, United Kingdom and China to gauge their awareness and concerns about food safety and security.
According to the study results from the facility, which is opened five years ago near Beijing, revealed more than half (52%) say food safety and security, including supply chains relating to the confectionery and snacks market segments, is one of the three most important issues facing the world today.
The issue of contamination within confectionery in particular has made headlines in recent years, with product recalls from a number of major brands in recent years, including within Mars, can prove costly, with a number of potential issues being raised including concerns surrounding allergens, through to mechanical issues at the processing stage.
Unsurprisingly, food security concerns have been greatly exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis, as 73 percent of respondents believe the pandemic will impact the viability of the global supply chain — and 71 percent believe it will have impact on global access to food.
As the company explained, it believes that everyone has the right to safe food and as a global manufacturer we have a responsibility to help tackle food safety issues impacting the global food supply chain and help find solutions.
“New food safety threats, like those posed by COVID-19, are constantly emerging through a combination of factors including global warming, increased globalisation of trade, as well as changes in agriculture practices and food production,” said David Crean, Mars Chief Science Officer and Vice President of Corporate R&D. “We believe everyone has a right to safe food and it’s also our responsibility to share our knowledge (82 percent of survey respondents expressed their desire to learn more), expertise and tools to enable safe food for all.”
This year, as we mark the fifth anniversary of the GFSC, a state-of-the-art research and training facility based in Beijing, we’re reminded of the importance of our work — to help tackle the most significant food safety challenges. Through our network of global partners we’re working to raise the bar on food safety and testing to help ensure safe food for all.
Over the past five years, the GFSC has welcomed visitors from around the world and hosted many global food safety symposiums and training events. The team of more than 30 Mars Associates who work at the site have established peer-reviewed research programs in three critical areas of food safety, as well as openly shared insights across the world.
As we look to the future, we explain how the consumer survey insights also link closely to GFSC priorities — and our work to help address critical challenges like climate change and emerging food safety threats.
Consumers Expect More of Governments & Private Organisations
According to the study results, respondents expressed the importance for government and private organisations like the GFSC to continue to focus on preventing food safety issues (85%), to invest in early detection programs (84%) and manage/mitigate global food safety (80%).
Currently the GFSC works with more than 25 partner organisations and academic institutions to share knowledge, generate new insights and help improve the resilience of supply chains in vulnerable countries around the world.
These consumers are willing to place their trust in food regulatory agencies (73%), country governments (65%) and international governing bodies (61%) to ensure the safety of food but agree more needs to be done. Eighty-five percent believe it’s important for government and private organizations to continue to focus on preventing food safety issues, 84 percent think it’s important to continue to invest in early detection programs and 82 percent believe managing/mitigating global food safety is important.
Mars Already Focuses on Key Areas of Concern
Sixty percent of respondents expressed concerned about keeping food safe from toxins, as well as bacteria, and 58 percent expressed concerns about preventing food fraud. The GFSC already set ambitious targets in three of these critical areas of food safety:
Mycotoxin risk management: Developing new partnerships and breakthrough management strategies for treatment to tackle mycotoxin head on; starting with aflatoxins — because of the serious health threat they pose, particularly in the developing world.
Microbial risk management: Driving research and collaboration to move toward faster detection, identification and ultimately, a predictive approach.
Food integrity: Developing tools and capabilities to mitigate food integrity challenges across the food industry and the global food supply chain.
Consumers Feel Informed; But Hunger for More
Sixty-one percent of respondents feel they are knowledgeable about food safety and security, with most people finding information from news outlets (55%), social media (37%) and word of mouth (36%), but 82% of respondents want to learn more. We believe everyone has a right to safe food and it’s also our responsibility to share our knowledge, expertise and tools to enable safe food for all.
The GFSC said it will continue to invest, explore and develop science and technology solutions to help address the most pressing challenges facing the global food supply chain, as well as strengthen our factory networks and build our laboratory capabilities. This will be especially important as the “rising generation” (those ages 18 to 34) of respondents who are particularly aware of food safety and security and also know more about these issues than their older counterparts.