The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) recently launched the agency’s first application programming interface (API) on its website, giving software developers access to data on recalls and food safety alerts, and allowing them to integrate that information into apps and other digital services. By opening public health data through public APIs, third-party software developers will be able to expand the reach of FSIS information among consumers beyond what the agency could do on its own.
The API will act as a bridge, allowing software developers to leverage FSIS recall data to create innovative services that are helpful to consumers or incorporate them into existing digital products and mobile apps. In addition to recall data, FSIS is working on APIs for other critical datasets.
The agency’s recall and public health alert information continues to be publicly available through the FSIS website, X (formerly Twitter), FoodSafety.gov, an RSS feed, and annual recall data summaries. Also publicly available on FSIS’ website are datasets that the agency regularly collects, analyzes, and uses in its decision-making process.
Since January 2020, FSIS has successfully migrated several mission-critical applications from on-premises legacy software to cloud systems, including the FSIS public website in 2021. The cloud-based infrastructure for the website is what laid the foundation to build the new API. These advances are in line with the U.S. open government initiative that aims to ensure open access to federal data, research, and information to empower citizen participation in the work of federal government.