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UK Scientists Devise Worldwide Food Alert System

Countries producing food containing harmful bacteria and toxins could be named and shamed more quickly using a worldwide alert system devised by a team of scientists from Kingston University in South West London. The team, led by Professor Declan Naughton, says the easy to use computer tool can be used to monitor contaminated products; helping to prevent them reaching shop shelves and ensuring that food is safe to eat.

Thousands of alerts about contaminated food are produced each year, particularly by developed countries, but there is no single international system for monitoring food safety. This prompted Professor Naughton and his colleagues, from the School of Life Sciences, to develop a program to analyse alerts and produce a global picture of the countries that trade and detect contaminated food that can be deadly or cause health problems from food poisoning to long term degenerative diseases. Professor Naughton recently presented a summary of the team's findings to a conference organised by the European Food Security Authority, the EU's food safety and security watchdog.

Professor Naughton said the program was the most sophisticated available, providing more detailed information more quickly than its rivals. "No other system can reflect the complexity of this information in a snapshot form," he said."It can be particularly helpful to developing countries new to food testing because information is easy to access and available in minutes." The program could also be applied to other global health hazards such as pest control or illegal animal or plant imports.
 
 

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