Journal article Open Access

Harmonized terms, concepts and metadata for microbiological risk assessment models: the basis for knowledge integration and exchange

Ungaretti-Haberbecka, Leticia; Plaza-Rodríguez, Carolina; Desvignesc, Virginie; Dalgaarda, Paw; Sanaac, Moez; Guillierc, Laurent; Nautaa, Maarten; Filter, Matthias

In the last decades the microbial food safety community has developed a variety of valuable knowledge (e.g., mathematical models and data) and resources (e.g., databases and software tools) in the areas of quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) and predictive microbiology. However, the reusability of this knowledge and the exchange of information between resources are currently difficult and time consuming. This problem has increased over time due to the lack of harmonized data format and rules for knowledge annotation. It includes the lack of a common understanding of basic terms and concepts and of a harmonized information exchange format to describe and annotate knowledge. The existence of ambiguities and inconsistencies in the use of terms and concepts in the QMRA and predictive microbial (PM) modelling necessitates a consensus on their refinement, which will allow a harmonized exchange of information within these areas. Therefore, this work aims to harmonize terms and concepts used in QMRA and PM modelling spanning from high level concepts as defined by Codex Alimentarius, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), up to terms generally used in statistics or data and software science. As a result, a harmonized schema for metadata that allows consistent annotation of data and models from these two domains is proposed. This metadata schema is also a key component of the Food Safety Knowledge Markup Language (FSK-ML), a harmonized format for information exchange between resources in the QMRA and PM modelling domain. This work is carried out within a research project that aims to establish a new community resource called Risk Assessment Modelling and Knowledge Integration Platform (RAKIP). This platform will facilitate the sharing and execution of curated QMRA and PM models using the foundation of the proposed harmonized metadata schema and information exchange format. Furthermore, it will also provide access to related open source software libraries, converter tools and software-specific import and export functions that promote the adoption of FSK-ML by the microbial food safety community. In the future, these resources will hopefully promote both the knowledge reusability and the high quality information exchange between stakeholders within the areas of QMRA and PM modelling worldwide.

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