S8 Big Data: Food Safety’s Holy Grail or Pandora’s Box?

Monday, August 4, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Room 205-207 (Indiana Convention Center)
Primary Contact: Laura Strawn
Organizers: Laura Strawn , Frank Yiannas and Martin Wiedmann
Convenor: Laura Strawn
The question is simple, but not easy: is food safety ready to harness big data? The three Vs are commonly used to describe “big data”; Volume: the sheer amount of data being generated; Variety: the different data types that have to be consolidated; and Velocity: the speed at which this data is output. At the dawn of the information age, there are over 1.5 billion online searches per day and 3,000 tweets per second. The FDA, CDC, UC Davis, and others have partnered to sequence 100,000 foodborne pathogen genomes. Along with other publicly available genomics databases, these resources will provide valuable information that can be used to improved detection of foodborne illness outbreaks as well as identification of sources responsible for pathogen and spoilage organism contamination. Moreover, the food industry worldwide conducts millions of food safety tests that are never harnessed in a collaborative manner.

This symposium will discuss the applications of big data to food safety and address questions concerning the potential benefits and challenges associated with data collection, storage, analyses, and sharing. Big data has not been a symposium topic covered previously by IAFP to our knowledge. Furthermore, its potential applications and hope on how it might be used to advance food safety and save lives across all sectors in the food system warrant further discussion. This symposium will address this concern and provide ideas for companies on how to utilize big data.

The use of big data will require a cultural shift from independent advancements to collective advancements. It will require the sharing of data, thus allowing for data to be more transparent and usable. Lastly, in the global food system, the ability to make quick and sound decisions related to food safety is imperative. Big data has the promise to help food safety professionals make better informed decisions because of the knowledge that can arise from harnessing big data.


3:00 PM
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