A specialist from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed how the authority is using data science to identify emerging risks by using a variety of sources and analytics techniques.
The aim is to help develop a picture of the food system, its safety, authenticity, and risks and vulnerabilities, so issues can be better managed.
Speaking at IAFP Europe, Julie Pierce, director of openness, data and digital, said she had to persuade the FSA that putting funds and faith into data was a good idea.
“I started with a narrow question, answered it and then expanded it into other regions and commodities. We started off with the observation on the amount of aflatoxins in figs from Turkey. We noticed a seasonal variation in the number of alerts we were seeing and could determine the weather was impacting on the aflatoxin level,” she said.
“It was a relatively straightforward model that we built but it was relevant to those grappling with the real life issue. It proved to be relatively straightforward to extend the model beyond figs to other commodities like Bolivian Brazil nuts.”