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International Food Safety Network launches BarfBlog

11.may.07, Rob La Gotta, Lexblog Reporter, Lexblog

11.may.07, Rob La Gotta, Lexblog Reporter, Lexblog
***International Food Safety Network launches BarfBlog***
By Rob La Gatta, LexBlog Reporter
LexBlog client, International Food Safety Network (IFSN), launched BarfBlog last week, providing commentary on food safety issues consumers should be aware of.
Spearheaded by Dr. Doug Powell, scientific director of IFSN and associate professor at Kansas State University, the BarfBlog utilizes new media technologies to spread awareness of issues that could have far-reaching impacts on our daily lives. Their bloggers have done research on everything from the food safety practices of television chefs to communication in crisis, resulting in a powerful balance: they know what they’re talking about, and they know how to effectively spread their word.
“We’re all about getting food safety information to a whole bunch of different people,” said Ben Chapman, a graduate student working with IFSN and a blogger for the BarfBlog.
Those people, he says, range from the farmers growing food products to the chefs who prepare them in restaurants. “Safe Food, From Farm to Fork” is a key tenet of IFSN’s mission. Their blog, according to Chapman, is developed with this mantra in mind.
In the past, the IFSN’s main avenue of creating awareness was through an electronic listserv that reached 12,000 people in 70 countries around the world. The four listserv newsletters produced by the group include content specific to various elements of food safety and agriculture.
But a listserv isn’t as efficient as a blog. After an unsuccessful attempt in a primitive era of blogging, the IFSN decided to give it another chance - and, this time, to take a new approach.
About two years ago, the KSU-based group launched their first blog, aimed at collecting personal stories from community members related to food safety issues. It instead developed into more of a web forum, and the IFSN’s initial enthusiasm for blogging soon wore off.
Not surprisingly, their interest in the project was recently sparked again as staff members, monitoring the role blogs play in providing news information for the masses, noticed the increasing shift towards utilization of the technology.
“[The IFSN staff members] are pop culture news junkies, always looking at how people are communicating,” said Chapman, who has been involved with IFSN since 2000. “We’re definitely seeing an increase the use of blogs.”
Chapman is one of five bloggers - all professors, graduate students or researchers - currently working on the BarfBlog. To ensure constant updates to the site, the five have created a schedule that divides up the workload throughout the week.
The geographic scope of the bloggers is currently fairly limited: they write from either Kansas or from Chapman’s home city of Guelph, Ontario. But they plan to expand their coverage, and hope to allow guest commentary from members of the food safety community at universities like UC Davis and Rutgers.
In the tradition of web-savvy marketing, the IFSN is using more than just the BarfBlog to develop a reputation in the digital world.
Beyond their four electronic newsletters, they have left their mark on high-traffic websites - initial projects included editing Wikipedia articles and starting a group on the popular social networking site Plans are also in development for a daily video series on YouTube that would spark an interest in their cause.
Right now, though, Chapman and the rest of the staff are working to create a buzz around the BarfBlog. Beyond written commentary, they plan to begin incorporating speeches, podcasts and slideshows into their weekly updates to provide a more interactive approach to food safety issues.
All of these seem like key ingredients for a successful blog. And working with LexBlog, the IFSN staff has a wide range of resources literally available at their fingertips.
“It’s been great,” said Chapman of his experience with LexBlog. “Kevin definitely understood what we were interested in and our objective.”
That objective, Chapman noted, is simple.
“ ‘From Farm to Fork,’ there’s nothing we’re not interested in,” he said. ““We are going to make [BarfBlog] our spot to talk about anything food safety.