Researchers from Kingston University, with assistance from Hampshire County Council, are developing a model to identify potential threats using data obtained from the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) in order to determine trends in food safety alerts.
The analytical tool focuses on two main areas – the country that reported the notification (the detector) and the subject country of the alert (the transgressor).
Kingston University’s Professor Declan Naughton told FoodProductionDaily.com that the ultimate aims of the research are to quickly flag up any issues, establish emerging food safety trends and assess whether a situation is improving or worsening.
“We are basically building a network analytical tool to deal with large amounts of data,” said Naughton.
“Our ultimate goal is to develop a global user friendly network tool to analyse food safety notifications and pinpoint which countries are having a negative impact on global food safety.”
“What we’ve done is break down these notifications into particular contaminants and rank each country on its strengths as a detector and a transgressor. We found that the biggest transgressor, looking back over the last six or seven years, is unsurprisingly China,” said Naughton.
According to Naughton, more than 20,000 notifications were posted globally last year with each notification including information on the contaminant, the type of food and the country of origin.
“You suddenly have a large amount of data and you need a network tool to wade through this information.”
“If we have these better management systems then we have a better indication of what to test. Our approach is that we want to provide this instrument to people in the food safety sector,” he said.
Presenting their research at a Food Standard’s Agency (FSA)-coordinated event during National Science and Engineering Week, Naughton told attendees: “We’re very interested in the roads and the changing patterns of detectors and transgressors with a view to forecasting.”
“We wanted to see who is reporting who, what they are reporting, how often are they reporting, is it getting worse, is it better and that’s really what we set to do, to try and capture that information,” he added.