USDA puts research on menu

USDA puts research on menu

The Agriculture Department last month launched a new Web site to provide information about food safety research.

The site, at www.nal.usda.gov/fsrio, has data on 458 projects, some dating back to 1996, done or funded by various agencies: the USDA's Agricultural Research Service and Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service; Food and Drug Administration; and Food Safety Consortium comprising the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University and Kansas State University.

The Food Safety Research Information Office, housed at USDA's National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, Md., created the site.

Congress mandated in 1997 that Agriculture establish an office to supply information on food safety studies to prevent duplicative food safety research projects and assist the government and private research organizations in determining research needs and priorities.

'We decided to use projects from the year the office was mandated,' said Yvette Alonso, the research office's coordinator, who created the site.

The office downloaded information on the projects in a number of formats such as Adobe Portable Document Format and Microsoft Word from various Web sites and created a searchable database using Microsoft Access 2000, she said.

'Access was an obvious choice because it works well as a short-term solution, the NAL supports it and it is fairly uncomplicated,' Alonso said, adding that the office will switch to another database to include more projects.

Daily refresh

Before adding a project to the site, the office checks contact information to confirm that it is genuine, Alonso said.

The news section is updated every day, and the office adds project information and annual reports when it receives them.

'The site is more research-oriented rather than consumer-oriented,' she said.

Alonso's office plans to add research done by state agencies, universities and private organizations and also make the site a one-stop shop for information on research grants and fellowships.

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