Development of web monitoring systems for the detection of emerging risks
The Emerging Risks Unit (EMRISK) has the mandate to assess and develop IT tools to detect and monitor food and feed emerging risks. For media-scanning systems, it has received a request to evaluate the Medical Information System (MedISys) developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). This report describes the MedISys system (i.e. history, terminologies, and ways of processing information) and presents data on the evaluation of the system as a monitoring and early detection tool for food and feed hazards. The performance of MedISys was assessed through its timeliness to report specific hazards (i.e. Salmonella, mycotoxins, heavy metals, aluminium, dioxins, melamine, DDT, Vibrio cholera, and radioactivity) selected from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). MedISys timeliness was also compared to ProMED-mail, another internet-scanning system. This initial evaluation suggests MedISys is an efficient tool for the early detection and monitoring of hazards. It tended to detect food and feed hazards earlier, a few days to several weeks in advance, and more frequently than ProMED-mail, but the information retrieved on each system was usually complementary. It is recommended that MedISys is further developed by adding more specific and multi-lingual food and feed categories and new sources (blogs in general and sources specifically from southern hemisphere countries) to increase its sensitivity to food and feed hazards. To add new feed and food categories, existing food databases such as the RASFF should be considered. To refine and set up the categories, linguistic and technical support should be provided.