Join our Mission!: Navigating Today's Food and Health Issues

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.       -John Adams, 1770

Like other organizations established to promote the public good, we hear from a few detractors from time to time.  Food and health issues certainly bring out passions (and extremes in some), especially in the "Twitterverse," and the debate today seems more intense than ever before. But short bursts of 140 characters don't lend themselves well to adequate context, and they're often devoid of facts.  It's hard to know what to believe in a communications environment where the voices of trained scientists and responsible regulators are drowned out by a small but vocal minority that recalls the snake-oil salesmen and flat-Earthers of old. So just as it's true of our food supply, it's important to set the record straight and separate the wheat from the chaff on food and health issues.

IFIC was formed in 1985 to communicate science-based information on food safety and nutrition to opinion leaders, journalists and consumers, and we established the IFIC Foundation in 1991 as our 501(c)3 educational arm.

Our focus is to communicate the totality of the science on a given issue, in terms that all consumers can understand.  Our professional staff, which includes five registered dietitians (one of whom is a former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), collaborates with a "Who's Who" list of health professional organizations, government agencies, academia and others to review the accuracy of our information and share our publications with consumers.  We engage with credentialed experts to amplify the scientific depth of our messages and refer them to media without compensation, because they too are dedicated to communicating accurately with our many audiences.   We cite peer-reviewed studies when undertaking detailed reviews of food and health issues.

Both IFIC and the IFIC Foundation are proud to receive the majority of our funding from many of the major U.S. and global-branded food, beverage and agricultural companies.  They support our mission to clarify the science of food safety and nutrition in the public dialogue, not to promote their brands.  Additional funding comes from government, such as USDA, and other nonprofit organizations for consumer research and other educational programs.  We are also expanding the opportunities for others who believe in our mission to support our efforts.

Our dedicated staff of 20 includes experts in communications, journalism, business, government, animal science, nutrition and law, providing authoritative analysis and context to issues of public concern as they relate to human health.  To us, IFIC and IFIC Foundation's guiding principles aren't just suggestions; they are ethical obligations.  While short of perfection, I'm proud of the reputation we have built for nearly 28 years achieving accuracy, clarity, transparency, and effectiveness in our science-based communications.  When we provide summaries of consumer insights, we rely on attitudinal research professionals using methodology that is sound and representative of the population, usually based on the U.S. Census.

Our reports reflect the mainstream of scientific opinion, and we strive to help consumers make informed choices.  We often highlight the benefits of modern food production, including innovations such as fortification, biotechnology, and safer food packaging, yet we respect the freedom of those who choose organic or other approved food options.

Here's what we don't do: We don't lobby or engage in politics.  We don't speak for any industries, companies or brands, and we don't accept corporate or special interest advertising.

We disclose supporters on our websites, and you can access a current list of our Partners and Supporters here.

Many of those who are critical of mainstream scientific theory and government regulators fail to meet these same standards of transparency.  They appear to want to tear down the "establishment" to create fear of conventional food in order to promote their niche product or idea, often at a higher price, or to raise funds for their cause. Online demagogues cloak their misleading rhetoric by calling for "dialogue," when in reality they have no interest in hearing things that don't conform to their jaded, inflexible views. Opinions are important, but as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

Everyone can and should play a role in the important dialogue on food and health.  After all, every one of us eats, and every one of us has a stake in issues as important as nutrition and food safety.  We invite those who aspire to genuine dialogue on the importance of a safe, wholesome, and sustainable food supply to join us in our mission to help inform opinion leaders and consumers in a manner they can trust.

We'll always strive to reach our stakeholders in the most effective means while also sticking with the classic advice of Dragnet's Sgt. Joe Friday: "Just the facts, ma'am," regardless of how stubborn they may be. 

 

Mr. Schmidt is President & CEO of the International Food Information Council Foundation