Yesterday, the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) debate began in the Senate. The contentious S. 510 legislation will significantly expand the FDA’s regulatory authority over processed foods and fresh produce.
The public debate was raging all day throughout my twitter feed, which inspired me to peruse google for food safety infographics. What I found was this incredibly interesting presentation about managing food safety information in the age of social networking.
Did you know that the USDA was thinking about Food Safety 2.0?
Jimmy Liu, a Technical Information Specialist at USDA ARS National Agricultural Library, certainly is. Liu is the man who designed and developed a number of the food safety websites and databases such as the USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Education Information Center. He also maintains the @FoodSafety Twitter account.
I continued to poke around to learn more about Lui’s work when I came across the following repository of food safety research projects:
And then, I was really blow away when I came across the USDA NAL supported Agricultural Network Information Center.
According to their site:
Vision: By 2010, AgNIC will be the leader that provides access to, and serves as a trusted steward for, the world’s largest collection of quality digital information in the areas of food, agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences.
Mission: AgNIC facilitates and participates in partnerships and cooperation among institutions and organizations world-wide that are committed to the identification, delivery and preservation of reliable, freely-available, evaluated, digital content and quality services for agriculture, food, and natural resources information.
A. Broaden and strengthen AgNIC at national and international level
B. Improve content and services to stake holders in the food, agriculture,
natural resources and related sciences
C. Explore and develop appropriate applications and technologies for the
food, agriculture, natural resources and related sciences sector
It gets even better. The site uses RDFa to semantically mark up their site, which basically means they follow the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) guidelines for annotating pages with meaningful information to define objects and their attributes, as well as relationships between objects. The rational for coding with RDFa is to create interoperability and standardization- sound like something that the entire food system could benefit from?
What do I find so amazing about all of this?
Our food safety system is a disjointed mess, which makes it nearly impossible for our government to efficiently and effectively identify and contain foodborne illness outbreaks. The knowledge, will, and tools all seem to be there. So what’s stopping all of these parties from talking and moving forward? How do we connect them?