Walmart, Bentonville, Ark., launched the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center (WFSCC) in Beijing, designed to bring some of the world’s leading food safety innovation to China.

The center will target research focused on analyzing root causes of foodborne illness and developing scalable solutions that can be made available to the entire food supply chain across China. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation plan to invest $25 million in funding over five years to support research projects in applied science, education and communications that enhance Chinese food safety.

“By bringing together the best food safety thinkers from across the food ecosystem, from farmers to suppliers, retailers to policy regulators, we’ll accelerate food safety awareness and help make Chinese families safer and healthier,” says Doug McMillon, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “Walmart is honored to help facilitate this collaboration.”

“Collaboration is an essential element of the effort to raise food safety standards and increase public trust in China,” adds Frank Yiannas, vice president of global food safety at Walmart and special advisor to the WFSCC. “To improve national health, each participant in the ‘farm-to-fork’ supply chain, including farmers, distributors, suppliers and retailers needs to take an active role. Through the work of the center, we hope to strengthen a strong and vibrant food safety culture throughout the entire food system in China, and positively influence safe food behaviors among all stakeholders to better protect consumers.”

“Food safety is a global issue that no country can solve alone,” says Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s chief sustainability officer and president of the Walmart Foundation. “We hope that the projects supported through the WFSCC can engage diverse stakeholders in developing effective solutions across China. We’re pleased this collaborative effort has received strong support from organizations around the globe, and we look forward to being part of the international partnerships that will help reduce the burden of foodborne illness.”

The funding of three projects will support the spirit and the mission of the WFSCC:

1. An initiative with CCTF focused on educating children and parents across China by increasing knowledge of safe handling of food in the household;

2. A collaborative research project bringing together U.S. and Chinese academics (from University of Arkansas, South China Agricultural University, China Agriculture University, Zhejiang University and Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences) and Chinese poultry producers (Fujian Shengnong Food Co. Ltd., New Hope Liuhe Co. Ltd. and Guangzhou Jiangfeng Industry Co. Ltd.) to study safety in poultry supply chains; and

3. A collaborative research project bringing together the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University and Tsinghua University to use supply chain analytics and state-of-the-art technology to rapidly predict and detect those areas of greatest vulnerability for food adulteration in food supply chains.

The WFSCC has already initiated projects with institutions promoting household education on improved food safety practices and academic capacity building, and maintains an ongoing collaboration with IBM on food traceability leveraging IBM Blockchain technology to securely and transparently track and authenticate food as it moves to consumers' plates.

“We could not have asked for a more constructive partner than CCPIT [China Council for the Promotion of International Trade]. We are very proud to have them as our companion on this journey to improve food safety in China. This is a priority that AmCham also shares with us, and which underpins their support for the center,” says Dirk Van den Berghe, president and CEO of Walmart China.