The Global Food Safety Conference started Monday in Tokyo with an emphasis on public-private partnerships.

Fifty-two countries are represented by 1,200 delegates at the four-day conference organized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Delegates have been discussing the most important issues and trends in food safety, focusing on more collaboration between government regulators and the private sector in advancing food safety and creating better lives for consumers everywhere.

At this year’s  Government to Business (G2B) meeting, the GFSI board was joined by 40 organizations representing 25 countries and five IGOs. Chairing the meeting were Paul Mayers, vice president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,  Mika Yokota, director of the Food Industrial Corporate Affairs Office of the Food Industry Affairs Bureau, and Mike Robach, chairman of the GFSI board.

New partnerships were announced that will enable the public and private sectors to drive progress on operational approaches to food safety culture and expand capacity based on the GFSI’s Global Markets Programme, a framework for implementing robust food safety systems in developing markets.

GFSI and the Chilean food safety and quality agency, ACHIPA, confirmed a strategic partnership focused on piloting operational approaches on food safety culture, building food safety capacity in Chilean facilities based on the GFSI’s Global Markets Programme and identifying opportunities for collaboration at the regional and global levels. The agreement, confirmed by the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture, is part of GFSI’s mission to build more public-private partnerships between companies, government regulators and intergovernmental organizations, reducing trade barriers and harmonizing global food safety legislation.

Governments have observed that closer partnerships with businesses provide them with access to private-sector expertise and best practices. GFSI said.

“Deepening partnerships with food safety regulators is a critical part of advancing sustainable food safety on a global scale,” said ACHIPIA head Michel Leporati. “In today’s complex global food supply ecosystem, any one company or country in isolation cannot achieve food safety objectives. The partnership is essential for Chile.”

Said Erich Jaeger, vice president of food safety for Walmart Chile and Argentina and leader of the GFSI Chile team: “The partnership will provide all parties with guidance through the Global Markets Programme, supporting Chilean companies with underdeveloped food safety systems and buyers, as well as helping to address food safety challenges. The agreement will also reduce hazards and enhance market access through enrolment in the GFSI’s recognized certification programmes.”

GFSI is committed to supporting the development of food safety in developing economies, and this year’s GFSI press conference featured a series of announcements relating to the provision of financial incentives for small- to medium-sized FMCG, or Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, businesses in developing regions. It also featured statements on new guidelines covering the implementation of strong food safety and quality processes, especially with regard to third-party auditing.

“This year’s Global Food Safety Conference marks a turning point for strengthening relationships between governments and the private sector,” said Robach, who is vice president of corporate food safety, quality and regulatory affairs for Cargill. “As chair of the GFSI board, I am proud to see the growing dialogue GFSI is leading. This kind of public-private collaboration is unprecedented. 10 years ago this would have been almost unthinkable but the support we’re seeing around the world now is signaling a big, positive change”.

The GFSI brings together key actors of the food industry to collaborate on continuous improvement in food safety management systems around the world. With a vision of safe food for consumers everywhere, food industry leaders created GFSI in 2000 to find collaborative solutions to collective concerns, notably to reduce food safety risks, audit duplication and costs while building trust throughout the supply chain. The GFSI community works on a volunteer basis and is comprised of the world’s leading food safety experts from retail, manufacturing and food service companies, as well as international organizations, governments, academia and service providers.  GFSI is powered by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global industry network focused on supporting Better Lives Through Better Business.

CGF is a global, parity-based industry network driven by its members to encourage global adoption of practices and standards that serve the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format.