Food delivery apps, diet tracking platforms, and health databases are making it easier than ever for Americans to improve their eating habits and overall health.47 This is an important development in the U.S., where nearly 40% of the population suffers from obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of these apps utilize AI, including the wellness app Noom, which collects and analyzes users’ exercise logs and food intake data to provide them with personalized health, diet, and fitness advice.
New tools are being developed in response to the conditions that lead to approximately one in six Americans48 experiencing food poisoning each year. Once an outbreak occurs, pinpointing the source is an extraordinarily difficult task,49 but some businesses are relying on Agrisource Data’s AI-powered AgClarity Analytics platform and other new tools to track food quality, safety, and freshness throughout the complex food supply chain.
Perhaps more surprisingly, crowdsourcing platforms like Yelp are proving to be fertile grounds for researchers addressing food safety. A team at Columbia University50 recently developed an AI tool that analyzes user reviews in order to contain the spread of foodborne illness outbreaks. The New York City Health Department is using it to track and identify51 the source(s) of contaminated food, even shutting down restaurants that repeatedly fail health inspections.
Using Twitter instead of Yelp, researchers at the University of Rochester developed nEmesis to tell users where it’s unsafe to eat. This AI’s natural language processing program can read tweets and geotag the location of restaurants associated with food poisoning-related posts. So far, the system is responsible for an estimated 9,000 fewer food poisoning incidents and 557 fewer hospitalizations.52