A new global monitoring tool identifies the United States as one of the top five worst food safety offenders, along with China, Turkey, Iran, and Spain. The findings are based on food contamination data collected between 2003 and 2008.

The food safety monitoring system was unveiled last moth at a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting. The developers say it will help countries identify food safety transgressors and process a high volume of recall data.

“With increased international trade, the right of the citizen to an adequate diet emphasizes the importance of coherent government responses to food safety and security,” the developers say on the site.

Professor Naughton, one of the system’s developers, told Medical News that the new program is unrivaled in its ability to analyze food safety data.

“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 network of data is available online.

Naughton believes the model could have even broader applications. “We’d like to develop the tool to create an international alert system that will provide real time information about emerging patterns and problems.”

For more details about the analytical tool, including an outline of methodology see: Nepusz T, Petróczi A, Naughton DP: Network analytical tool for monitoring global food safety highlights China. PLoS ONE 4(8):e6680, 2009. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006680