WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a new publicly available data tool on Sept. 7.

The agency said it worked with software developers to provide more access to recalls and public health alerts using an application programming interface (API).

FSIS’ first public API will permit developers to utilize recall data for consumers or incorporate them into existing digital services or mobile apps. The agency noted that all recall and public health alert information will still be available through other channels developed in recent years.

“Transparency, innovation, and collaboration are essential to public health,” said Dr. Emilio Esteban, under secretary for USDA Food Safety. “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.”

Several data sets are already available on the FSIS website, where the public can collect and analyze data for food safety purposes. 

The agency noted that since January 2020, it migrated applications from on-premises legacy software to cloud systems, including the FSIS public website during 2021.

“The cloud-based infrastructure for the website laid the foundation to build out a rich and robust API,” FSIS said. “These advances align FSIS more closely with the US 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.”

FSIS plans to use APIs in the future for other datasets.