meatBy Janet Stevens and Christopher Alvares, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

An estimated one million illnesses can be attributed to Salmonella every year. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently announced its Salmonella Action Plan to help reduce the number of illnesses associated with FSIS-regulated products using new standards, strategies and innovation.

When the agency learned of the Federal Safety Datapalooza on January 14, Chief Information Officer Janet Stevens knew they wanted in. “As lead of our agency’s innovation Strategic Goal, I knew the value of leveraging the public through challenges, unconferences and datapaloozas,” said Stevens, “This was a wonderful opportunity to bring together data scientists, technologists and practitioners to generate ideas to help save lives.”

“The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) produces regular reports on Salmonella contamination in regulated product,” said Christopher Alvares, director, data analysis and integration staff, “but the data had never been available in machine-readable format or in a single place. 

“One of the agency’s goals, as stated in our Strategic Data Analysis Plan, is to improve the accessibility and usability of FSIS data.  We wanted to know what the public could do with the data to help prevent illnesses and what other data may be needed for better mash-ups and results.”

(For more information on FSIS’ data analysis and reporting, see their website.)