Washington: Researchers have developed two mobile apps for people wanting to keep their distance from health threats like E. coli-contaminated lettuce or the flu.
The Department of Energy`s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory hosted a competition this summer, where graduate students designed two mobile apps, FoodFeed and FL.U (pronounced `flu you`).
The Defense Department`s Defense Threat Reduction Agency provided funding to PNNL to develop web-based analytics and mobile apps as part of its Biosurveillance Ecosystem (BSVE) program.
FoodFeed, which is designed for an Android operating system, alerts users about threats that come from food.
The app has three tabs, one of which is a news feed of articles and alerts on food recalls, illness outbreaks and other breaking consumer-safety information. For example, someone shopping at the grocery store could check the news tab and notice the cilantro in their cart has been recalled due to a possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
Another tab shows health code violations at restaurants. Users can search for restaurant records - hopefully before ordering - read the details of specific violations, and compare restaurant ratings to the average number of violations in the area.
The last tab provides general information on the risks associated with food, such as the recommended temperature to cook beef and what harmful bacteria can be found in raw chicken.
Users can look after their friends` stomachs too by sharing information from FoodFeed on social media or report suspected food poisoning to the local health department.
Meanwhile, FL.U, which has been designed for iOS, FL.U lets users share if they have influenza or flu-like symptoms. Their voluntarily submitted information can help create localized outbreak maps.
PNNL is working to license the apps and will make them public in the next few months.