The Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs is mainly concerned
with the early detection of food safety risks. Their objective is to detect potential
problems early enough to act accordingly, in order to avoid any bad repercussion.
In order to achieve this, the FSVO has set up an operational procedure that
is repeated in an iterative way. First, the Seismo, a group of experts, conducts
research to find interesting information that may indicate the occurrence of a future
problem. Then, a group of external experts called the Beirat, helps to evaluate these
different topics, determines if they are of interest. The final decision on whether
or not to pursue the topic is made by the management of the FSVO.
Through this process, the FSVO produces different kinds of documents, among
them the Seismo Infos. It is a four-page document produced monthly that re-
views all the topics that have interested the Seismo during the month and aims
to raise the attention of readers on certain publications. The resources used to
write this document comes from newsletters, newspapers, different articles or even
some tweets. FSVO searches the Internet on a daily basis to find these resources.
What interests them are new, controversial, unusual, surprising and finally relevant
Currently there is two main problems with producing the Seismo Infos, the vast research around many different reference websites and the review of all the information to determine whether the information is useful or not. On top of that, onlytwo people are responsible for the information’s research and review. This beinga daily task, it takes up a lot of their time every morning. Due to their smallstaff, the number of sites consulted is also limited, although each worker consultsdifferent resources.
The FSVO would like to save research time by using a computerized solution
that would allow a "first cleaning", a first selection of articles of certain interest.
Moreover, by saving time, it would be possible to increase the number of reference
sites in order to have a wider choice of information sources. However, it is important
to emphasize that the goal is not to have a system that makes the final decision
on whether a topic is relevant or not, this always remains the duty of experts with
experience in the field.
Since for security reasons FSVO employees cannot download any program on their
office computer, the final solution has to be in the form of a website, which is easily
accessible from anywhere. The project is therefore composed of two main parts.
The first one is the retrieval of the data of recent articles from all the reference
websites that the FSVO people consult. The second part of the project is to make
this data available and usable. More concretely, it is about the development of the
Furthermore, as the interaction with the final product must be simple, efficient
and pleasant, features to improve the interaction with the information must also
be implemented. Most of them were defined at the beginning of the project, others during the project’s development through a close collaboration with a representative of the FSVO.