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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2005

Book Reviews

Internet Guide to Food Safety and Security

Ruth Riley
Director of Library Services
School of Medicine
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina

Internet Guide to Food Safety and Security. Elizabeth Connor. New York: Haworth Information Press, 2005. 128 p. ISBN 0-7890-2632-5 $19.95 paperback.
Libraries of all types can expect an increasing number of inquiries from users about food safety and security as news reports about avian flu, mad cow disease, and bioterrorism become more frequent. Internet Guide to Food Safety and Security, by Elizabeth Connor, is an excellent compilation of annotated links to web sites with food safety and security information. Ms. Connor is a well-qualified medical librarian with extensive experience in five medical libraries and a Distinguished Member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals. According to the Haworth web site, the guide is intended for "dietitians, librarians, health agency employees, health educators, or anyone interested in staying healthy when handling, preparing, and storing food." The emphasis is on English-language information for North Americans, with some links from the United Kingdom, Australia, and some European countries.

The book opens with a chapter that dissects the anatomy of a web site address, provides guidelines for evaluating web content, and provides tips on using search engines. Subsequent chapters cover general food, health and agriculture sites, food safety and security sites, diseases and conditions, specific issues, concerns and controversies, audiovisual and multimedia materials, education and conferences, interactive tools, organizations and societies, legislation, standards, and regulations, and publications. A thirteen page glossary, short bibliography, and index are also included. The numerous links dictate that most of the annotations are one or two sentences.

The chapter on major food safety and security sites includes 25 annotations that will be of the most use to librarians as these sites cover many aspects of food safety and are good starting points for researching specific questions. The diseases and conditions chapter includes coverage of anaphylaxis, chronic illness, disease outbreaks and surveillance, mad cow disease, and pregnancy. The longest chapter in the guide covers specific issues, concerns, and controversies. Topics include additives, dyes, emulsifiers, fortifiers, flavors, colors, and preservatives, and advisories, alerts, recalls, and warnings, carcinogens, cooked foods and cooking methods. Other topics in this chapter are disasters and emergencies, farmed fish, food irradiation, genetic engineering, hormones, inspections, kitchen safety, labeling, packaging, and storage, pesticides, restaurant eating, terrorism and tampering, toxins, and water quality. In addition to several unique calculators and quizzes, the interactive tools chapter includes links to six specialized food safety databases of which many librarians are likely unaware.

Although our profession tends to view print reference tools that compile web sites with skepticism, librarians will find this guide to be valuable due to the narrow subject focus and comprehensive scope. The exhaustive nature of Ms. Connor's search is evident by the 281 annotations. Web sites in each chapter that are major resources with authoritative and original content are denoted by a checkbox which is handy when doing quick scanning of the pages. Screen shots are included for eighteen web sites.

The guide will be an excellent addition for public libraries, medical and science libraries, university libraries supporting education programs in public health, agriculture, and food science, and state libraries serving health agencies.

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