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Scientists devise worldwide alert system


Scientists at Kingston University London in the U.K. have created an easy-to-use computer tool to monitor contaminated products.

The aim is to prevent the products from reaching shop shelves and to ensure that food is safe to eat.

The university’s website says that 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 Declan Naughton to act.

Program analyzes alerts

He developed a program that analyzes alerts and produces a global picture of the countries that trade and detect contaminated food, which can be deadly or cause health problems from food poisoning to long-term degenerative diseases.

Naughton says this program provides more detailed information more quickly than other systems.

“No other system can reflect the complexity of this information in a snapshot form,” said Naughton.

“It can be particularly helpful to developing countries new to food testing because information is easy to access and available in minutes.”

China, Iran, Turkey, the U.S. and Spain were the top five offenders when it came to producing contaminated food, according to an analysis of data from 2003-2008.

Over the same five-year period, Italy, Germany, the U.K., Spain and the Netherlands were the countries that reported the largest number of contaminated products from other countries.

Naughton said the program could provide profiles of individual countries that had problems with food safety as well as identifying particular contaminants that needed investigating, such as high levels of mercury in fish.


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