A Real World Example of A/B Website Testing

A/B testing has gained a lot of interest in recent years as a practical method for improving the results from websites.  My business partner and I produced a mobile application, RecallCheck that relied on a database we created from FDA and USDA websites.  During our project, the FDA introduced a new website for reporting food related issues called the:  Reportable Food Registry.  For our purposes (using a mobile phones to scan bar codes), the result we most cared about was the quality and quantity of UPC codes.  Below is a detailed statistical analysis of before and after the FDA made it’s changes with regard to the quantity of UPC codes included in published recall notices.   While our interest was the UPC codes, the same process can be applied to any change on a website. Continue reading

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RecallCheck Post-Mortem

Recently, I’ve been answering a lot of questions about about RecallCheck, which was an Android based mobile application to allow uses to scan UPC bar codes on packaged food and find out about any recent recalls involving that product.  Developing and marketing RecallCheck, I worked with my business partner Scott. With the project is now over, I’d like to cover some of the learnings and reasons I believe we were ultimately unsuccessful. Continue reading

Understanding FDA Recalls

At Agorasys, we’ve just published a market research report that provides  summary statistics for FDA food recalls, a statistical analysis of important trends, and a qualitative analysis of important issues within the recall notices, with a special emphasis on how existing practices impact emerging mobile technologies like our RecallCheck product.   This report is based on our unique database of recalls developed to support our mobile RecallCheck product that enables users to scan bar codes with their cell phones and find out if the product has been recalled.

Who should read this report:

  • Decision makers seeking to understand the recall landscape
  • Communications specialists helping firms with recall related communications
  • Packaged food marketers
  • Food safety professionals
  • Journalists
  • Food safety consumer advocates

The report’s table of contents is available here

Updating RecallCheck to Version 2.0

At Agorasys, we’ve updated our RecallCheck program to version 2.  With this version, we now have an online database of food recalls based on the fda recall site that we search, instead of launching a web search based on variations of the barcode.  With this new structure we are able to offer better results.  One cool new feature of the improved results is the ability to call the recalling company directly from the application.

Because not all of the FDA recalls include barcodes (e.g. bulk peanuts), it isn’t possible to see all of the results in our database yet.  Our next feature will be adding a keyword search that allows for searching across all of the recalls using words instead of barcodes in order to easily find recalls based on manufacturer, food type, recall reason etc.

A Google Map of Recalling Firms

My business partner and I have been working to put together a search-able database of food recalls based on the FDA’s voluntary recall notice page.  Below the fold is a Google map showing all the location of firms that have issue recalls.  Please note, a firm’s physical location may not be directly related to where its products have actually been sold.

Continue reading

Working Recall Data from the FDA

My business partner and I have been working on improving the functionality of our RecallCheck product.  As part of that effort we’ve created a database of the Voluntary Recall Notices posted on the FDA’s website.  Along those lines, this will be the first of several posts working to visualize some of the data we have amalgamated.

The following chart shows the Voluntary Recalls broken out by month:

A monthly breakout of recalls from the FDA Website
A monthly breakout of recalls from the FDA Website

The large numbers for January, February, and March are largely the result of two recalls at nut processors that had a ripple effect through the food industry that uses nuts as ingrediants in other products.

A New Product for Food Safety

A recent study from Rutgers asserts that more than 80% of Americans pay close attention to information about food recalls, but that only 61% have ever looked for a recalled product in their home.  While this might be a surprise for food researchers, any one with a busy home can understand these statistics.  First you have to know about the recall.  Then you have to search for the potential product.  Then you have find the notice on the Internet to determine whether your particular grocery (e.g Pistachios) is covered by the recall.  I’m amazed that 61% of the respondents actually looked.

But we have a better way.  My partner and I have created a new application for phones based on the Android operating system (e.g. TMobile’s G1) that allows users to scan the bar code directly from the package and search the US Food and Drug Administration’s website for product recall notices about that specific product.  The application is: RecallCheck.

With RecallCheck it just takes seconds to scan the bar code and find out whether the product in your kitchen is covered by an FDA recall.