USDA to open facility-based food safety data

USDA to open facility-based food safety data

The Department of Agriculture will soon post food safety datasets from slaughter and processing facilities online, including testing results for bacteria causing foodborne illnesses.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will begin sharing data collected by food safety inspectors on Data.gov. The agency’s nearly 7,500 inspectors cover 6,000 meat, poultry and processed egg facilities nationwide, and increasing transparency could help consumers make better buying decisions, motivate individual establishments to improve performance and lead to industrywide improvements in food safety, the agency said.

The new datasets will be published on a quarterly basis starting 90 days after the publication a Federal Register Notice on the Establishment-Specific Data Release Plan. FSIS will begin by sharing information on the processes used at each facility and creating facility codes to easily sort data by where it was collected.

The agency will factor in data availability and impact on public health when determining which datasets to release, and it will produce user guides for context to be included with each dataset.  The specific framework for releasing this data is in the FSIS Establishment-Specific Data Release Plan.

USDA said it has been committed to using its inspector-collected data to identify and prevent food safety concerns for the past seven years, allowing FSIS to implement food safety changes. According to the agency, modernizing food safety inspections led to a 12 percent drop in foodborne illnesses in FSIS-regulated products from 2009 to 2015. 

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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