Food Control Systems Computer Science Essay

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Food is any substance or material consumed by human beings which provide nutritional support such as vitamin protein,carbohydrates or fats for the body. Long ago, people were obtaining food from hunting, farming or fishing, but today most of the food consumed by the world population is of animal or plant origin which is supplied by the food industry.

While talking about food, we cannot put aside two very important aspects which are food safety and food security. There exists several international agencies which make sure that the world is consuming healthy food. Some examples are International Association for Food Protection, World Resources Institute, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and International Food Information Council. They are responsible to handle issues such as sustainability, biological diversity, climate change, nutritional economics, population growth, water supply and access to food. Furthermore, to develop international food standards and programmes, the codex alimentarus commission was created in 1973 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The main purposes of this programme are to protect the health of consumers, ensure that food trade is done in afaie manner and promote coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non- governmental organizations.

Food safety and food security

Food safety is a scientific discipline describing the handling, preparation and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness caused by a variety of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set five basic principles for food hygiene [2]

Prevent contaminating food with pathogens spreading from people, pets, and pests.

Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent contaminating the cooked foods.

Cook foods for the appropriate length of time and at the appropriate temperature to kill pathogens.

Store food at the proper temperature.

Use safe water and raw materials

Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. [3]

Food import

Food import is now traded and marketed on a global basis. The variety and availability of food I is no longer restricted by the diversity of locally grown food or the limitation of the local growing season. Between 1961 and 1999, there has been a 400% increase in worldwide food exports. The World Bank reported that the European Union was the top food importer in 2005, followed by USA and Japan. Similar to Australia, UK,India and South Africa, even Mauritus is a net food importer.

FCS (Food Control System)

A national food control system is a group of elements, human and non-human (ideas and methods) used by countries to achieve certain objectives such as :

Protect the health of customers and fight for their economic rights.

Protect consumers against fraud

Ensure fair trade of food products nationally and internationally

To be effective, FCS, generally require

Keys elements (legislations, administration, enforcement and supporting bodies

Good management

Input from international organizations

Adequate flow of information

Overview of Mauritian food control system

As mention above, Mauritius is a net importer of food, importing mainly from France, South Africa, Australia and India. The Mauritian consumers have become more quality conscious with the increase in the standard of living that has occurred over the last 2 decades.

Food legislation

In 1998, the food act was amended thus strengthening the power of entry of authorized officers to food premises, increase penalties and also allow for seizure of food for analysis. Moreover, more detailed enforcement procedures were put forward ranging from improvement notice, prohibition orders to emergency closing orders. Regulations are mostly based on the international codex norms such as food labeling and hygiene regulations.

Administration and enforcement

The ministry of health is mainly responsible for food control in Mauritius, Furthermore, the ministry of agriculture controls import of vegetables, fruits and genetically modified organism. The food technology laboratory also plays an important role on food control as it strives toward safe and quality food through its excellence in analysis. The laboratory provides microbiological and chemical analysis of foods and provides technical assistance to all stakeholders involved in food quality and safety.

Supporting bodies

Supporting bodies of food control in Mauritius includes the Mauritius standard bureau which sets specifications that should be satisfied by all products. On the other hand, the government analysis division and the central laboratory deal with food analysis.

Two consumer protection organizations are known locally

Institute for consumers protection

Association des consommateurs de l'ile Maurice

Food import control

In food business, assurance of quality has become a central part of all activities focusing on safety. The NASA was the first organization to produce a set of procedures, specifications and requirements being known as the Military Specifications.[3]

However today the Codex Alimentarius from the World Trade Organization has become the reference point for food trade in foodstuffs and further regulations at national level.

Two very important part of the Codex Alimentarius are

The code of ethics for international trade in food

Guideline for food import control

Ethics plays an important role in the production and retail of food. Apart from removing barriers to trade, the codex alimentarius encourages food traders to develop voluntarily ethical practices as an important way of protecting consumers' health. The main objective of the code of ethics is to stop exporting countries and exporters from delivering poor quality or unsafe food on the international markets.

Code of Food ethics for international trade in food

Food additive: should be in accordance with the General Principles for the use of food additives

Pesticide residues: limits for pesticide residues in food should be in accordance with the international maximum limits recommended for pesticide residues.

Microbiological contaminants: all food should be free from micro-organisms and parasites in amount harmful to human.

Food standards: appropriate and adequate national food standards should be established through the acceptance of food standards of the Codex Alimentarius.

Food hygiene : sound hygienic practices

Labeling: all food should be accompanied by accurate and adequate descriptive informations.

Food for infants, children: food for infants and children should be in accordance with specific standards.

Nutritional aspects: no claim in any form should be made about food with minimal nutritive value stating the food can make a vulnerable contribution to the diet.

Implementation: food that is exported should conform to regulations in force in the exporting country.

Point of control [4]

Control of imported food by the importing country can be conducted at one or more points including the points of:

Origin, where agreed upon with the exporting country;

Entry to the country of destination.

Further processing;

Transport and distribution;



The importing country can recognize controls which has been carried out by the exporting country.

Pre-shipment clearance is a possible mechanism for ensuring compliance with requirements of, for example, valuable bulk packed products that if opened and sampled upon entry, would be seriously compromised, or for products that require rapid clearance to maintain safety and quality.


For a control system to be efficient, consignments entering a country must at least contain the following information:

date and point of entry;

mode of transport;

comprehensive description of the commodity (including for example product description, amount, means of preservation, country of origin and/or of dispatch, identifying marks such as lot identifier or seal identification numbers etc);

exporter's and importer's name and address;

manufacturer and/or producer, including establishment registration number;


The nature and frequency of inspection, sampling and testing of imported foods should be based on :

The risk to human health and safety presented by the product

Origin of product

the history of conformance to requirements

Sampling frequency of products supplied from a source for which there is no or known poor compliance history may be set at a higher rate than for products with a good compliance history provided this is shown through transparent and objective criteria.

Existing system

Food import management information system (FIMIS) [5]

For archiving and tracking purposes, a Food Import Management Information System (FIMIS) was engineered, programmed and deployed successfully on September 2002 as an information archive base to assist the Food officials in identifying trends and analyzing statistical data, regarding the safety of imported food products arriving through the Aqaba port for Jordan. Moreover, the statistics and identified trends has helped in enforcing the streamlined process and selectivity model used for managing imported food utilizing the Online Analyses Processing (OLAP) as a business tool for data management.

FIMIS has proved to be an authentic and reliable tool for documenting, processing and managing information related to food import products. FIMIS institutes a database for accurate, reliable and easily accessed data related to the quality, safety and quantity of imported foods. The system also provides a mechanism for maintaining an efficient food control system by automatically ascertaining non-compliant products. This system has optimized the prevention of consumer risk and has successfully improved the overall quality of imported foods. [6]

PREDICT (predictive Risk-based Evalation for dynamic Import Compliance targeting)[7]

PREDICT is an automated data mining and pattern discovery system to improve import screening and targeting.

Purpose of PREDICT:

Prevent the entry of adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise violative goods related to food.

Expedite the entry of non-violative goods

The product code of the item is feed into the system and based on it, the system provide a screening result such as the history of the item, importer,exporter and the field exams and sample analysis of the previous entries. Based on these information, the regulating officers can easily decide whether to issue 'the may proceeds' or detained the product.

Public Health Information System (PHIS)[8]

PHIS is a data-driven, easy to use analytic system and a powerful decision decision making tools that's allows the Food Safety Inspection System (FSIS) to protect public health more efficiently and effectively.

The system operates through the interaction of four components: domestic inspection, import activities,export activities and predictive analytics.

Domestic Inspection

Enhanced establishment and inspection data (e.g., establishment profile information, in-plant verification activities, and food safety assessments)

Data-driven inspection activities and food safety assessments

Import Activities

Data-driven foreign country audits and point-of-entry (POE) inspection activities

Automation of import application process

Receipt of electronic foreign health certificates for advanced notice of incoming shipments

Export Activities

Automation of export certification process

PHIS will ensure certificates accurately reflect foreign country import requirements.

Predictive Analytics

Alerts, reports and data-mining tools to better inform decisionmakers

Automated scheduling of inspection tasks and responses to threats to public health

Import activities

Advance Notification of Shipments

Electronic certification (eCert) from foreign countries

Electronic application by importer of record, broker and agent

Interim solution until the Custom and Border Protection's Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system is able to interface with PHIS

Enhances Shipment Tracking

Alerts when shipments "fail to present" for inspection

Automates refused-entry disposition decisions and tracking system

Incorporates all point-of-entry reinspection activities

Integrates shell eggs and egg products ("Shell eggs" includes those for breaking that go directly to the FSIS-regulated breaking plant and shell eggs for the consumer, verifying that "keep refrigerated" label is along with certificate attestations.)

Automates "increased" level of inspection

Improves targeting appropriate type of inspection to specific products

Enables record of inspection results

Enhanced external communication

Direct notification of rejected product to other agencies (e.g., APHIS, CBP)

Direct notification to competent authorities of foreign countries

Direct communication with importers of record, brokers and agents

Data mining

Data mining is the process of analyzing huge volumes of data to discover implicit but potentially useful information and uncover previously unknown patterns and relationships hidden in data.

Data Mining has been successfully applied in e-commerce, bioinformatics, computer security, web intelligence, intelligent learning database systems, finance, marketing and telecommunications.

The process of data mining consists of three stages:

Initial exploration

The initial exploration usually starts with data preparation which may involve cleaning data, data transformations, selecting subsets of records and - in case of data sets with large numbers of variables - performing some preliminary feature selection operations to bring the number of variables to a manageable range.

Model building

Model building and pattern identification can take various forms such as association rules, classification rules, and regression techniques.


Deployment means obtaining the resultant knowledge, in a usable format, to the place where it is needed, such as decision makers and operational systems.

Potential tools and techniques

What is a server?

A server refers to a computer program which runs as a service, to serve the needs or requests of other programs which may be found on the same computer or on another one linked by a network.[9]

There exists different kind of servers:

Database server: a computer program that provide database services to other computer programs or computers. It provides database server functionalities such as Database Management System (DBMS). [10]

File server: a computer attached to a network that has the primary purpose of providing a location for shared disk access. Workstations attached to the network can then access the server to retrieve these files or perform certain manipulations such as update and delete or even add new files to the server. [11]

Application server: Software dedicated to executes scripts and procedures for supporting the construction of applications. [12]

Web server: refers to the hardware or the software that enables accessing to content such as web pages and other pages from anywhere when connected to the internet. The hardware keep the data which need to be viewed on the internet while the software make the content accessible on the internet. [13]

Web technologies


HTML stands for HperText Markup Language. It is the basic blocks of webpages and is composed of a set of markup tags which are used to describe the web pages. Web browser is used to read these HTML documents and represent them into visual or audible web pages. The behavior of html pages can be affected by making use of scripts such as javascript and CSS can be included to cater for the appearance and layout of the web pages. [14]


PHP stands for Personal Home Page. It is a scripting language which is basically used to produce dynamic web pages. It is usually embedded in HTML and uses a web server to for processing. The latest release of PHP is the 5.3.5 version. [15]


AJAX is the shorthand for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It is a combination of web development methods used on the client side to produce interactive web applications. With AJAX, web applications can retrieve data from the server asynchronously in the background without interfering with the display and behavior of the page, that is, the web page need not to be reloaded. This is handled by the JavaScript and the XMLHttpRequest request. [16]

Programming languages


Java is a programming language developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems. It an object oriented programming language whose syntax is mostly derived from C and C++. Java is actually the most popular programming languages in use, starting from application software to web applications. Java applications are typically complied to bytecode and is portable since it can run on any Java Virtual Machine (JVM) regardless of the computer architecture. [17]


Visual is an object oriented programming language. It is in fact an evolution of VB as it uses the Microsoft .NET framework. [18]



MySQL is a relational database management system that runs on a server providing multiple-user access to a number of databases. It is open source software widely used for web application. [19]


Microsoft SQL server is a relational model database server produced by Microsoft. Its basic query languages are T-SQL and ANSI SQL. Microsoft enters the market of enterprise level database in order to compete with Oracle and IBM. Over years Microsoft has improve a lot in term of performance, IDE tools and several complementary packages were included in the 2005 version such as OLAP and data mining server and reporting server. [20]


Oracle database is an object-relational database management system produced and marketed by Oracle Corporation. It is composed of at least one instance of the application along with data storage. The database can store and execute procedures and functions within itself. [21]


PL/PGSQL stands for Procedural Language/PostgreSQL Structured Query Language. It is a procedural language supported by PostgreSQL. PL/PGSQL is a fully featured programming language which allow much more procedural control than SQL, including the ability to use loops,control structures ,triggers and cursors. [22]