Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
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Food Safety Sytems

March 2011

THE NCFOODSAFE PROJECT: Building Situational Awareness for Safer Food

A safe and secure food supply is critical to national security. The recent string of food recalls and food-borne illnesses has created a sense of urgency in addressing gaps in the food safety system and made safe food a high priority for the nation.

Indeed, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, paves the way for the first major overhaul of U.S. food safety laws since 1938. New legislation winding through Congress would not only give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration greater regulatory powers over the nation's food providers — and further engage the private sector in assuring safe food — but also dramatically alter the food safety landscape.

The NCFOODSAFE project, a collaboration of the Kenan Institute's Center for Logistics and Digital Strategy and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health's North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness, examined the system for monitoring and protecting food safety in North Carolina.

The project yielded a new informatics tool, called the North Carolina Foodborne Events Data Integration and Analysis (NCFEDA) tool, which provides situational awareness and intelligence about an intrinsically complex and dynamic process — the detection of and response to a food-borne disease outbreak.

NCFEDA was built to demonstrate the potential of situational awareness — created through real-time data fusion, analytics, visualization and real-time communication — to reduce latency of response to food-borne disease outbreaks by North Carolina public health personnel.

This project is a first step toward the eventual integration of new capabilities within current North Carolina food safety systems. NCFEDA has been designed to align with current national strategic plans for food safety, and its results can serve as model for similar efforts in other states.