Designing a monitoring program for aflatoxin B1 in feed products using machine learning

Wang, X.; Bouzembrak, Y.; Oude Lansink, A.G.J.M.; Fels-Klerx, H.J. van der


Agricultural commodities used for feed and food production are frequently contaminated with mycotoxins, such as Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). In Europe, both the government and companies have monitoring programs in place for the presence of AFB1. With limited resources and following risk-based monitoring as prescribed in EU Regulation 2017/625, these monitoring programs focus on batches with the highest probability of being contaminated. This study explored the use of machine learning algorithms (ML) to design risk-based monitoring programs for AFB1 in feed products, considering both monitoring cost and model performance. Historical monitoring data for the presence of AFB1 in feed products (2005–2018; 5605 records in total) were used. Four different ML algorithms, including Decision tree, Logistic regression, Support vector machine and Extreme gradient boosting (XGB), were applied and compared to predict the high-risk feed batches to be considered for further AFB1 sampling and analysis. The monitoring cost included the cost of: sampling and analysis, disease burden, storage, and of recalling and destroying contaminated feed batches. The ML algorithms were able to predict the high-risk batches, with an AUC, recall, and accuracy higher than 0.8, 0.6, and 0.9, respectively. The XGB algorithm outperformed the other three investigated ML. Its incorporation would result into up to 96% reduction in monitoring cost in 2016–2018, as compared to the official monitoring program. The proposed approach for designing risk based monitoring programs can support authorities and industries to reduce the monitoring cost for other food safety hazards as well.