Aug. 19, 2009 The growth in world population along with the urbanisation of developing countries is placing undue demands on global food supplies. Key challenges include production, transportation and also maintaining food safety and security.
Current food alerting practices differ between nations and a small number of countries such as the US and EU states provide the majority of monitoring systems. Many developing countries have under-developed monitoring systems for imported tainted or contaminated foodstuffs. With different countries using varied approaches to produce tens of thousands of food alerts each year, there is an urgent need to filter this enormous body of information to highlight where to place concentrated efforts.
Scientists at Kingston University, in South West London, have developed and applied a computer programme to monitor trends in food alerts. It facilitates analyses of the patterns of traffic in faulty foodstuffs and emphasises the countries that trade and detect faulty foodstuffs.
“New systems are required to provide coherent, real time and user-friendly analyses of alerts,” said Professor Declan Naughton, of Kingston University. “Having a global picture of the trafficking pattern of faulty foodstuffs is very important to researchers and policy makers alike. This new programme is the first step toward this ambitious goal.”
The programme allows an easy comparison of the transgressor and detector activities of each country over a period of time or as a snapshot on a set date. The user-friendly programme can be accessed at: http://staffnet.kingston.ac.uk/~ku36087/foodalert/
Using this analytical tool, food alerts made within the European Union over a five year period were analysed. The results highlight the countries that issue most alerts (detectors) and those that produce most faulty foods (transgressors). A special feature of the programme is the ability to provide a global snapshot by instant analysis of the thousands of individual reports. The research highlights the growing role of China in production of faulty foodstuffs.
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- Nepusz et al. Network Analytical Tool for Monitoring Global Food Safety Highlights China. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (8): e6680 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006680
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