TITLE: IFIC: International Food Information Council Foundation

ACCESS: http://ificinfo.health.org

The International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) is a non-profit organization founded in 1985, whose mission is to make scientific research reports in the field of food safety and health more easily understood by educators, journalists, and others who provide information to consumers. Their focus is primarily on U.S. issues, but they also work with independent food organizations in other countries. The food, beverage, and agricultural industries support the IFIC.

The site is organized into sections such as "What's New," "Food Safety and Nutrition Information," "Information for Reporters," "Information for Educators," and "Additional Resources." There is also a link to IFIC's bimonthly publication, Food Insight. The site is easily searchable using Boolean operators. The information presented here ranges from 1993 to 2001, but some of the information on timely topics seems to be dated.

The strength of the site is the suggested guidelines for critically evaluating information about food and health. These guidelines appear throughout the site, but are covered in-depth in "Information for Reporters." One informative article offers a guide to understanding and interpreting scientific papers and includes a description of the methodologies and key definitions. Journalism and communication students, or others concerned with evaluating information might find these pages useful.

The information provided for educators is limited, including a small number of sample lesson plans and articles. The rest of the page lists Food Insight reprints as well as other materials that may be purchased from the IFIC.

"Food Safety and Nutrition Information" is broken down into subjects ranging from biotechnology and food to health tips. The many articles in this section tend to vary in depth and quality; some have authors and references and others do not. Most are too shallow for an undergraduate research paper, but the general public might find them useful. All the articles support the use of biotechnology in agriculture. No mention is made of the opposing arguments.

With the exception of the evaluation information, the site is perhaps too superficial to be of much use to college students. By trying to make the information more understandable for the general public, the IFIC has watered down its usefulness for academic papers. Nevertheless, the site might provide students with a starting point for research.

Carol McCulley
Linfield College

Editors' Note: IFIC informs us that they will soon be releasing a revised version of their site at http://ific.org.

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