Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Predicting Food Safety Compliance for Informed Food Outlet Inspections: A Machine Learning Approach

Version 1 : Received: 19 March 2021 / Approved: 22 March 2021 / Online: 22 March 2021 (13:13:25 CET)

How to cite: Oldroyd, R.; Morris, M.; Birkin, M. Predicting Food Safety Compliance for Informed Food Outlet Inspections: A Machine Learning Approach . Preprints 2021, 2021030536 Oldroyd, R.; Morris, M.; Birkin, M. Predicting Food Safety Compliance for Informed Food Outlet Inspections: A Machine Learning Approach . Preprints 2021, 2021030536

Abstract

Consumer food environments have transformed dramatically in the last decade. The number of food outlets has increased, and a large proportion of the UK population now purchase food from a takeaway or restaurant at least once a week. Despite these developments, national spending on food control has reduced and many Local Authorities struggle to meet health inspection targets. This work presents a data driven approach to enhance current inspection processes with a view to reduce consumer risk of foodborne illness whilst eating outside the home. We explore the utility of three machine learning algorithms to predict non-compliant food outlets in England and Wales as defined by Food Hygiene Rating Scheme scores >= 2. Using socio-demographic, business type and urbanness features we experiment with under and over sampling strategies at five ratios to address problems of class imbalance in the dataset prior to analysis. We find that Synthetic Minority Over Sampling Technique alongside a Random Forest algorithm with a 1:1 sampling strategy provides the best predictive power. Our final model retrieves 84% of total non-compliant outlets in a test set of 92,595 (sensitivity=0.843, specificity=0.745, precision=0.274). We discuss the utility of machine learning algorithms to prioritise high risk establishments for inspection by Local Authority officials and make recommendations for weighting outcomes to improve their appropriateness in an applied setting.

Keywords

Food safety; food environments; food hygiene; machine learning

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