EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN, U.S. — Connecting expertise across several colleges, Michigan State University (MSU) is leading efforts to build international understanding of food safety in the interconnected food supply chains that stretch around the world, Cargill announced on May 9. 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., U.S.; Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., and will conclude with a three-day visit to the MSU campus in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., on May 25–27.

“Food safety extends beyond any one company or country,” said Walker. “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 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 May 11 and continues until 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 May 18, where food safety, including the linkages to animal health, will be discussed with regulatory agencies, stakeholders and related associations.

On 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 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 May 27, with reflections, summarizing of insights and discussions on how best to apply practices back in China.

“This program has one primary theme,” said Walker. “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.”