The future of food safety: Case studies and resources for local government


Curated case studies and resources on the topic of food safety and regulatory inspections applicable to local government.

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Resources on the future of food safety and regulatory inspections.

Case study: Fighting food poisoning with AI engine
One in six Americans get food poisoning each year. And some take to social media to vent about it. In 2016, the Southern Nevada Health District partnered with the University of Rochester to implement the nEmesis app to improve Las Vegas’ health inspection protocols. While cities like Las Vegas typically use a random system for inspection, the nEmesis app locates possible sites of infection using a smart algorithm, which is based on machine learning from Twitter. In preparation, the app scanned some 16,000 local tweets each day, focusing in on any content that discussed food poisoning and a specific restaurant. This data was then used to generate a high-priority list for inspections. In a controlled experiment, the tweet-based system led to health violation citations in 15% of inspections, compared to 9% using the random system. Over the study, the new system led to an estimated 9,000 fewer food poisoning incidents and 557 fewer hospitalisations.

Briefing: Local government: Welcome to the sharp end of the regulatory knife!
The challenges of being a regulator in local government are outlined in this briefing from New Zealand and Australia. It underlines the difficulty of the face-to-face nature of local government level regulation, which can be life or death or small businesses.

Report: Transforming regulation through collaboration: why we need to talk more about accountability in public services
This report is based upon a collaborative project between 40 UK stakeholders to explore alternative regulatory approaches, including the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, The King’s Fund and Ofsted. It highlights barriers to more collaborative regulatory practice, including a culture of fear around inspections and ambiguity about the remit of regulation.

Technical summary: The future of food safety
This paper summarises two WHO conferences in 2019 on the future of food safety. It highlights both emerging food safety threats and the available opportunities and solutions for the use of government officials, food safety professionals and researchers. Key themes include safe food systems in the era of climate change and digital transformation of food safety practices.

Tool: Food Standards Agency: Food Hygiene Rating Scheme – AI
The UK government has developed an AI tool to help local authorities better manage the hygiene inspection of food outlets. A machine learning model/web application, it sets out to help councils identify and prioritise the businesses to inspect through predictions of non-compliance with food hygiene regulations.

Video: Preparing for your food hygiene inspection
This video developed by the Food Standards Agency sets out the basics of food hygiene for businesses. It covers the three key areas that will be inspected during a visit by local government, including the safety of equipment, the safe handling of food, and controls to ensure food is safe to eat.

Briefing: Artificial Intelligence and Food Safety: Hype vs. Reality
Can artificial intelligence and machine learning transform food safety? This briefing tries to find an answer. It argues while there is much promise in the use of AI, the future depends on deeper uptake and engagement among industry, be it policy makers, public interest groups, or tech players.


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