The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) launched a new feature on its website that enables software developers to access data on recalls and public health alerts through an application programming interface (API). This is FSIS’ first public API and the organization says it will transform the way the public can benefit from this critical and timely public health information.
FSIS issues recall communications to alert consumers of potential food safety issues related to FSIS-regulated products. The API will act as a bridge, allowing software developers to leverage FSIS recall data to create new value-driven products for consumers or incorporate them into existing digital services and mobile apps. The agency’s recall and public health alert information continues to be publicly available through the FSIS website, X (previously Twitter), FoodSafety.gov, an RSS feed and annual recall data summaries.
“Transparency, innovation and collaboration are essential to public health,” says USDA under secretary for food safety Dr. Emilio Esteban. “By opening critical data through public APIs, third-party software developers will be able to expand the reach of our information among American consumers far beyond what FSIS could do on its own.”
According to FSIS, its data play an important role in supporting food safety research, surveillance and regulatory efforts to protect public health. The agency prioritizes transparency and data sharing, with several sets of data publicly available on its website that it regularly collects, analyzes and uses in its decision-making process.
Since January 2020, FSIS says it has successfully migrated several mission-critical applications from on-premises legacy software to cloud systems, including the FSIS public website in 2021. The cloud-based infrastructure for the website laid the foundation to build out a rich and robust API. These advances align FSIS more closely with the U.S. open government initiative that aims to ensure open access to federal data, research and information to empower citizen participation in the work of federal government.
The recall API is an example of how USDA leverages human-centered design, data, technology and digital services to provide customers with easy-to-navigate online tools for critical programs and services. In addition to recall data, FSIS is working on APIs for other critical datasets. When available, FSIS will announce them in its weekly Constituent Update newsletter.
More information about FSIS’ recall API and developer resources are available on the agency’s API webpage.