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Foods Standards Agency develops AI tool for councils to prioritise inspections


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has developed an algorithmic tool to help local authorities prioritise inspections of food businesses.

It has been taken to its alpha phase as a step towards supporting the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS).

The tool has been designed with technology company Cognizant to predict the ratings of new businesses that have not yet received an inspection, so councils can identify which should be done as a priority.

It takes in data from FHRS sources and the national census, with a HERE API, along with information on the types and locations of businesses and local demographics. It then applies a machine learning model, bringing together a standard methodology for prioritising inspections and the councils’ own knowledge.

Inspections to continue

The tool is not intended to replace the current approach to generating a FHRS score, which will always be determined by an inspection. This helps consumers to choose where to eat out or shop.

Local authorities will not have access to the raw data used in the predictions.

A spokesperson said the tool is now undergoing limited alpha testing, the results of which are being reviewed before the agency decides on the next steps.

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