Universities Join Forces to Build International Understanding of Global Food Safety

Connecting expertise across several colleges, Michigan State University is leading efforts to build international understanding of food safety in the interconnected food supply chains that stretch around the world. As a part of this work, Dr. Kevin Walker, professor of MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, is to lead a food safety study program commencing on May 7 for 24 senior government officials from China.

The program focuses on protecting public health through a more integrated approach to food safety in the 21st century. The application of science-based food safety standards will be featured as the delegation travels to locations in Geneva, Switzerland; Paris, France; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, Minn. and will conclude with a three-day visit to the MSU campus in East Lansing, Mich. on May 25–27.

"Food safety extends beyond any one company or country," Walker said. "It ultimately requires the private and public sectors to combine efforts, resources and knowledge towards a shared vision of food safety with more unified actions. The experiential learning approach taken by this initiative is designed to enable our Chinese participants to understand how others around the world achieve collective outcomes from shared values."

The Global Food Safety – China Program (GFS–CP) has benefited from support provided by Cargill, General Mills, Pfizer Animal Health and Danone who regard science-based standards, guidelines and recommendations as key to protecting public health and minimizing food-borne illness. Numerous intergovernmental and not-for-profit organizations along with many food-focused companies are also contributing expertise and in-kind support.  In all, this delegation will interact with close to 100 different experts.

The GFS–CP is scheduled to commence in Geneva on Monday, May 9, with visits to the World Trade Organization, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Nestle and Evian, where they will meet experts in international governance, standards, trade development, food safety and sustainability.

The program moves to Paris on Wednesday, May 11, until Tuesday, May 17. With participation from the European Commission, they will visit the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), DG Sanco and Danone, to study capacity building, collaboration, assessment methodologies, best practices, benchmarking, supply chain management and embark on plant study tours to facilities associated with Cargill, Danone, McKey and General Mills.

The program journeys to Washington D.C. on Wednesday, May 18, where food safety, including the linkages to animal health, will be discussed with regulatory agencies, stakeholders and related associations.  

On Monday, May 23 the program transitions to Minneapolis to discuss food safety processes through facility tours and panel discussions with industry leaders provided by Cargill, General Mills, Danone and McDonald's Corporation.

The final leg of the program begins on Wednesday, May 25, when the delegation arrives at MSU's campus in East Lansing. The group will discuss collaborative issues between the federal government, state government and business in terms of partnerships, research, education and training. The program concludes on Friday, May 27, with reflections, summarizing of insights and discussions on how best to apply practices back in China.

"This program has one primary theme," Walker said. "Food safety in a global world requires all of us – consumers, industry and governments – to continually work together in shared space that improves public health."

Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

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