The Mars Global Food Safety Center Shares Insights At WMFmeetsAsia


From January 13 - 15 2020 food safety experts from around the world gathered at WMFmeetsASIA to exchange knowledge and insights on mycotoxin contamination and solutions.


Dr. Guangtao Zhang, Head of Research at the Mars Global Food Safety Center (GFSC), Dr. Yueju Zhao, Senior Research Manager and Dr. Feng Xu, Research Scientist, represented Mars at the prestigious event, which took place in Bangkok, Thailand.

The symposium provided a platform for the food and feed industry and science and regulatory authorities to exchange current knowledge, promote harmonization of food and feed safety regulations and control procedures, and make recommendations for integrated strategies to ensure the safety and security of food and feed supply chains.

Dr. Zhang shared the Mars perspective on finding new solutions to help address high-priority food safety challenges using a strategic approach. He also chaired a panel session: Minimizing Mycotoxin Contamination, where various mitigation techniques and insights from pilot projects were shared. During this session, the Mars GFSC’s work in Nepal to help build aflatoxin detection capability in National Academy of Science and Technology was also introduced and recognized.


In 2018 Kansas State University, USAID and National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and the Mars GFSC set up a state-of-the-art mycotoxin laboratory in Kathmandu, Nepal, focused on understanding the problem of increased levels of aflatoxin present in the breastmilk and blood serum levels of Nepalese mothers.

The new mycotoxin laboratory provides a unique opportunity to determine the source of aflatoxin contamination, helping scientists and food producers to understand and tackle the problem of high levels of mycotoxins present in foods commonly consumed in Nepali households and develop better detection and early intervention mechanisms and bringing hope to thousands of new mothers.


Each year around 4.5 billion people are exposed to aflatoxins, which are known to contaminate 25 per cent of the world’s crop area. The health impacts are devastating, as well as stunting, damage to the immune system, and maternal anaemia, it is estimated to play a part in up to 28 per cent of all liver cancers globally (Liu et al., 2012). 

Dr. Zhao, who leads the Mycotoxin Risk Management program at the Mars GFSC, said: “Mycotoxins are one of the biggest food safety challenges on the planet.

“Asia is a region with a high risk of mycotoxins and climate change is expected to have a significant impact on food safety and security in this region. We have all witnessed the devastating effects of weather, pests or crop diseases, on agricultural communities. Awareness and actions of mycotoxin risk management needs to be improved. Digitalization and decision support tools in mycotoxin management are essential and extensive collaboration between academia and industry is needed to fill the gaps. 

 “At Mars we believe that we have a clear responsibility to help tackle the world’s most significant food safety challenges, but we cannot do this alone. That’s why we are partnering with regulators, academics, NGO’s and other industry members to tackle mycotoxins head on.”