The site is no longer being updated, including the FSnet archives, but remains a vast source of food safety information. For current information, please visit the iFSN successor, bites, at bites.ksu.edu

About Us > Information Centre > Food Safety Network Information Procedures

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The Food Safety Network searches out credible, current, evidence-based information on food safety and makes it easily accessible to the international community. Sources for food safety information include federal and provincial regulatory agencies, international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), peer-reviewed scientific publications, academia, recognized experts in the field, and other respected organizations as appropriate.

The Food Safety Network provides research, commentary, policy evaluation and public information on food safety issues from farm-to-fork. Within the Food Safety Network, food and health professionals staff a comprehensive, bilingual information centre which includes a national toll-free food safety telephone line.

Toll-free Telephone Line

Protocol for Phone Response

Three approaches to addressing questions from callers:
· Answer
· Answer + Referral
· Direct Referral

(i) Answer
· Respond to all general questions relating to food safety issues
· Respond to questions about generic issues/products
· Evidence-based, balanced information used to answer callers' questions
· Information used to answer questions will be stored in a dedicated electronic database, supported by Resource Files (please see section on Resource Files, below)
· If unsure of the answer, arrangements will be made to phone the caller back at the earliest convenient time, so that staff can appropriately research the issue
(ii) Answer + Referral
· Provide general information on the issue(s) in question
· Refer caller to a previously established contact , such as a food/health professional, commodity group, manufacturer, etc., if questions asked are beyond the scope described in (i), above
· If no appropriate contact is available for referral of the caller, arrangements will be made to phone the caller back at the earliest convenient time, so that staff may have the opportunity to locate/establish an appropriate contact for referring the caller
(iii) Direct Referral
· Request by the caller is beyond the scope of information provision described in (i), above; examples - inquiries concerning branded products, position statements, opinions, medical or dietary advice, media requests
· Refer caller to a previously established contact
· If no appropriate contact is available for referral of the caller, the caller will be informed and staff will search for an appropriate contact for the referral. Arrangements will be made to phone the caller back at the earliest convenient time.


Data Collection for Statistical Evaluation

An electronic database is used by Food Safety Network staff to record questions that they answer. Data collected are primarily of a demographic nature (eg. province of caller; how they learned of the Food Safety Network; initial question asked) and will be used to help identify food safety issues and trends. Callers to the toll-free telephone line are not required to provide this information. Any personal contact information collected from a caller (eg. mailing address) will be used solely for providing the caller with the information that they requested and will not be used for other purposes or provided to third parties.

Information Resources

The Food Safety Network maintains an extensive library of food safety information in a variety of formats. Fact Sheets are designed to provide current background information on specific issues. The References section of the electronic database contains a bibliographic listing of evidence-based and regulatory information from published and electronic sources. Resource Files hold supporting information for the Fact Sheets, the database and the toll-free telephone line.


Protocol for Preparing Fact Sheets

Fact Sheets are prepared in a question-and-answer format, with the goal of entering them into the searchable database, for easy access when staff answer phone calls. Fact Sheets are also available to the public in printed or electronic formats.

Information provided must be balanced and evidence-based. Primary sources of information should be used and may include:
· Refereed journals and scientific publications
· Provincial, federal and international governments
· International organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
· Educational organizations (eg. universities, colleges)

Sources of information are noted at the end of each Fact Sheet, using the APA referencing style. Website links for further information may also be provided.

Fact Sheets are prepared by an individual or a team within the Food Safety Network. Drafts are circulated within the Food Safety Network for critical evaluation, and the comments used to revise the documents. Fact Sheets may also be reviewed externally by individuals or groups with expertise in the subject matter of the document.

Completed Fact Sheets will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, and will include the date of the original preparation and of the most recent review.


Protocol for Preparing Resource Files

The Resource Files are designed to contain printed copies of supporting information for the Food Safety Network. Under the mandate of providing balanced, evidence-based information, resources in the files are obtained from:
· Refereed journals and scientific publications
· Provincial, federal and international governments
· International organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
· Educational organizations (eg. universities, colleges)
· Trade journals and magazines
· Popular press articles
· Internet sources such as websites, web documents, listservs

The Resource Files may contain position statements, editorials, opinion pieces and viewpoints for and against the issue in question.

Completed Resource Files contain:
· A summary sheet with defined components (see below)
· A numbered table of contents for the file, organized according to topic
· Current scientific research articles about a topic
· Government regulations, if applicable
· Consumer information or other materials relevant to the topic


1. Template for the summary sheets:

Topic: This may be a keyword or in the form of a question.
Key points: Most important highlights (one or two only) of the topic
Supporting points: The topic will determine the number of supporting points listed. Supporting point headings should be selected from the following list: Regulations (including when approved), Research, Points of View (pro & con), Specific Groups/Contacts, Definitions, Recent News, Other (anything that does not fit under the other headings).
Websites: URLs of websites specifically dealing with the topic. General or multi-topic sites should not be included here.

An electronic version of each summary sheet can be entered into the database.


2. The table of contents shows the major topics in a file. Documents in the Resource Files should be grouped into topics and clipped together with a paper clip. Use a numbering system to designate documents within a topic.

3. Copies of current scientific papers must follow CANCOPY requirements

4. Other materials - ensure any website material is allowed to be copied (printed)

Complaint and Dispute Resolution Procedures

Complaints, comments or other items of concern related solely to the toll-free telephone service should be directed to the co-ordinator of the information centre. If the issue is not resolved at this primary supervisory level, interested persons or parties may request that the matter be reviewed at the next higher supervisory level.

Complaints and disputes encompassing issues beyond the scope of the toll-free telephone service will be referred directly to the Scientific Director of the Food Safety Network.


Funding

The Food Safety Network is funded by a mix of public, private and foundation sources. All activities and information provided are independent and guided by evidence-based principles.