FSnet funding, format and future

I’m a writer.

And writers write.

I may be a scientist, and my group has produced some decent stuf, but really, I’m just a writer.

And writers write.

Some people shouldn’t write, like Bono of the ridiculously overrated band, U2. Bono is a terrible writer. It’s on display in last Sunday’s N.Y. Times at

I started FSnet, the food safety news, shortly after the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak in Jan. 1993. Sure, Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet yet, but those of us in universities had access, and I started distributing food safety stories.???

It all seems sorta quaint now, what with Google alerts and blogs and RSS feeds, but my goal was straightforward: during the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak, a number of spokesthingies said, they didn’t know E. coli O157:H7 was a risk, they didn’t know that Washington State had raised its recommended final cooking temperature for ground beef, they didn’t know what was going on.?????? So FSnet was conceived and made widely available so that no one could legitimately say, they didn’t know.

But times have changed. You’ve probably all missed my annual PBS-like funding plea. I’m grateful for the donations, but I can sense the funding model needs to change. Last year, Seattle lawyer Bill Marler stepped up – and I’m quite grateful — and covered the funding shortfall, but I don’t expect that to happen every year.

So, this is what I’m planning to do.

Over the next few weeks, a new web site, bites.ksu.edu will consolidate the existing food safety information resources of the International Food Safety Network – news listservs, blogs, infosheets, videos and others – and we’ll strive to become the pre-eminent daily international electronic food safety publication or portal with text, audio, video, blogs, and RSS feeds. And we’re going to sell advertizing. The bites.ksu.edu not-for-profit environment will additionally:

• provide research, educational and journalistic opportunities for secondary, undergraduate and graduate students in the multi-media electronic environment of bites.ksu.edu;

• develop, implement and evaluate a variety of food safety messages using various mediums to impact the safe-food behavior of individuals from farm-to-fork;

• provide an infrastructure to produce a series of multilingual public service announcements to further stimulate public interest in food safety and security and to raise awareness about specific emerging issues, especially during a crisis;

• host a dynamic and cross-cultural team of secondary, undergraduate and graduate students to create multilingual and multicultural food safety and security information, including weekly food safety info/tip sheets, podcasts and flash-based Internet animations and videos through bites.ksu.edu;

• provide training through a graduate emphasis in food safety, language, culture and policy (with distance education option); and,

• create employment and training opportunities for secondary, undergraduate and graduate students in conjunction with an international internship program to place students with regulatory authorities and industries who promote a food safety culture.

Should I keep the International Food Safety Network name? It’s a bit ponderous and creates confusion with the posers at the University of Guelph. bites is easier to deal with. What else should I keep or eliminate? I’m going to collapse the four listserves – FSnet, Agnet, AnimalNet and FunctinalFood Net into one daily e-publication. For those who want instant news, it will be provided through RSS feeds in the following categories. For those who can wait, a daily e-publication will be distributed, in html and text format.

The draft categories available for RSS feeds are:

E. coli
Hepatitis A
other food safety microorganisms
restaurant inspection
raw – milk, juice, food
Food safety communication
Food safety policy
Food allergies
animal disease
plant disease
genetic engineering
functional food
new science

I’m open to suggestions. If you feel I’m too much of an asshole to deal with, e-mail Ben at his new North Carolina State gig, benjamin_chapman@ncsu.edu, or Amy at ahubbell@ksu.edu.

For me, it’s more writing.

Cause writers write.