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Food safety assurance: combining provenance and the Internet of Things

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posted on 2016-10-31, 11:52 authored by ITaaU NetworkITaaU Network, PETER EDWARDSPETER EDWARDS

Food safety assurance: combining provenance and the Internet of Things

Led by: The University of Aberdeen

With partners: Rye & Soda Restaurant and Traceall Global Ltd.

Project lead: Professor Peter Edwards –

Professor of Computing Science at the University of Aberdeen. He has over 25 years experience in intelligent information infrastructures – with a particular emphasis on provenance, trust and information quality.


This project will explore the potential of lightweight, low-cost sensing in a commercial kitchen as a means to aid understanding of food safety compliance issues. Members of the project team have extensive experience of solutions for sensor data capture, data provenance and workflow representation, and much of the software infrastructure to deliver the proposed project is already in place.

As highlighted in the Food Standards Agency strategic plan 2015-2020: “It is the responsibility of people producing and supplying food to ensure it is safe and what it says it is …”. In 2006 Food Standards Scotland introduced the CookSafe manual to assist catering businesses to understand and implement “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point” (HACCP) based food safety management procedures.

In recent years, sensor devices have become ever cheaper and easier to deploy.

Between 2010 and 2015 the PI’s team developed an extensive platform based on semantic web technologies that supports sensor device descriptions, data annotations and provenance capture.

We believe that our existing infrastructure could be applied (with appropriate sensors) to deliver much more than a simple IoT monitoring/data acquisition solution – by using devices to create a food ‘history’ that documents events such as temperature change and movement, and then contrasts this with simple plans representing food safety house rules.

Project aims

  • To develop an initial ontological model for food safety management based on the HACCP approach, through analysis of the FSS CookSafe manual and sessions with professional catering staff.
  • To develop a simple working prototype able to assemble the history of a food item from Delivery/Collection through to Service – testing this against a restaurant’s food safety house rules to identify discrepancies. This will initially focus on temperature control house rules, but may be expanded to others if time permits.
  • To deploy low-cost sensors into a commercial kitchen to monitor food storage and preparation activities – logging this data into an existing semantic infrastructure.
  • To conduct a small-scale evaluation study with restaurant staff to assess attitudes to the sensor technology deployment and the utility of the provenance traces.

The team will adopt a user-centred approach throughout, working with (and listening closely to) professional catering staff to understand the practical challenges of introducing sensors into a working kitchen, and the best way to make use of the new data emerging without causing undue disruption to operations.

Traceall Global ( was founded in 2012 with the aim to deliver state of the art web data management solutions for tracking, traceability and monitoring of equipment and assets. The company specialises in delivering real-time, web-based monitoring of customised variables including temperature and humidity

The team believe that even on a small-scale project there is strong potential to achieve long-term impact by highlighting pathways towards a pervasive IoT deployment in the catering and hospitality industry.





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