1. What is International Food Information Council?
The International Food Information Council (IFIC) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, nonpartisan, communications organization.
Our mission is to effectively communicate science-based information about food safety and nutrition to health professionals, government officials, educators, journalists, and consumers.
We help the public and stakeholders understand the science behind food safety and nutrition issues. In addition, we help stakeholders understand consumer attitudes about food and nutrition issues through the original research we commission. IFIC’s stakeholders include scientists, health and nutrition professionals, educators, policymakers, regulators, journalists, and food, beverage and agricultural industry professionals in the supply chain, manufacturing, food service and retail sectors.
In accordance with our Guiding Principles, we are non-political. We do not lobby for legislation or regulations. We do not speak for, or represent, any company, product, brand or industry. We are based in Washington, DC.
2. Why was IFIC created?
IFIC was created in 1985 to bridge the communication gap between science and the public’s decision-making processes on health, nutrition, and food safety. At that time, there was widespread debate about the safety of food ingredients, but there were few organizations that could help the public understand the science behind the issues.
IFIC collects and disseminates scientific information on food safety and nutrition. We believe that credible science should drive food policy and consumer choice. We also bring stakeholders together to share information on topics of mutual interest.
In 1991, IFIC created the International Food Information Council Foundation (originally called the Food Education Foundation) to serve as IFIC’s public education arm in an effort to effectively communicate science-based information about health, food safety and nutrition for the public good (www.foodinsight.org).
3. How is IFIC organized and staffed?
A Board of Directors oversees IFIC. The majority of the Board is made up of scientists and communication professionals, and each company that is a member of IFIC also has a seat on the Board. List of IFIC Partners & Supporters(PDF)
IFIC is led by our President and CEO, David Schmidt. Our professional staff includes dietitians, communicators, and specialists in food safety and public affairs. (View our Staff List)
4. How is IFIC funded?
The majority of our funding comes from member companies in the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries. We also receive contributions and grants from other associations, academic institutions, and government agencies. View our 2011 990 form.
5. How does IFIC allocate its financial resources?
As the 2009 expense chart below shows, our resources are dedicated to support our communication programs, administration, media relations, attitudinal research and analysis, international programs, contributions to the International Food Information Council Foundation (www.foodinsight.org), and modest contributions to other organizations that share our goals.
IFIC Expenditures 2009
6. Is IFIC international?
IFIC is primarily a U.S. communications organization. The "International" in our name recognizes the global nature of food and health issues, the fact that we monitor global issues, and because we offer information and educational materials for translation to an informal network of independent Food Information Organizations and partners around the world.
7. What is the difference between IFIC and the International Food Information Council Foundation?
501(c)3 public education foundation
||A global environment where credible science drives food policy and consumer choice.
||To effectively communicate science-based information about food safety and nutrition to health professionals, government officials, educators, journalists, and consumers.
To effectively communicate science-based information about health, nutrition and food safety for the public good.
||Board of Directors
Board of Trustees
A majority represent universities, governmental bodies, research laboratories and public foundations.
8. How does IFIC interact with policymakers?
We share unbiased scientific research reports and consumer attitude studies with policymakers, often during a public comment period or during educational sessions with partner organizations. In addition, our research is available to government press offices and others who are looking for additional background or consumer attitudinal research on food and nutrition issues.
We also play a convening role by organizing conferences that bring different stakeholders and policymakers together to discuss issues of the day.
9. How does research on consumer attitudes improve public policy?
By understanding consumer attitudes, policymakers have another tool to help them accomplish their goals. Our research has found that consumer attitudes shape how they perceive and respond to health and food safety messages from the government. Unless policymakers understand these nuances and their real-world impact, the solutions they develop may not fully accomplish their goals.
10. How does the International Food Information Council work with the news media?
Our media team helps journalists and bloggers who are writing about health, nutrition and food safety. For example, we connect journalists with credentialed experts. We help reporters understand what the public thinks about food safety and nutrition topics (by sharing the results of our consumer attitudinal research). We can arrange briefings on the latest in food safety and nutrition information. We organize Web casts that share new insights. We send alerts to journalists to help add context to breaking issues. We work to ensure accuracy and correct misinformation in the blogosphere. Through a partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health, we offer tools to help journalists understand and accurately report on emerging science on nutrition, food safety, and health. Contact our media relations department at 202-296-6540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
11. How does IFIC work with experts?
We rely on a network of more than 350 credentialed experts in food safety, health and nutrition. Many of these experts are based at universities and all are accomplished in their fields. These experts review the accuracy and context of our information and educational materials, help us understand emerging issues, write journal articles, participate in Web casts, and speak at conferences around the world.
In addition, when reporters contact us seeking information, we often refer them to relevant experts who can help inform the public at large. We have no control over whether or not experts respond to the reporters who reach out to them. Similarly, we do not approve their remarks or have control over what these experts say. We never ask experts to speak in support of any company, product, brand or industry. We do not pay experts for media interviews.
12. Does IFIC speak for the food, beverage or agricultural industries?
No. In accordance with our Guiding Principles, we do not speak for or represent any industry, company, brand or product. We do not endorse products or accept advertising. Our work is based on the totality of the science and can be supported by the scientific community at large.
13. Does IFIC engage in political activities?
No. In accordance with our Guiding Principles, IFIC is nonpartisan and does not endorse any political party, elected official, or candidate for elective office. We do not provide contributions to political campaigns, hold fundraisers, or have a Political Action Committee (PAC). We do not take positions, lobby or advocate for legislation or regulations.
14. What are your policies for IFIC employees who interface with the media or with consumers through social media venues?
We encourage our staff to participate in discussions in social media as we know this is an important and effective way to reach people. In accordance with our Guiding Principles, our staff must identify themselves as International Food Information Council representatives when they are communicating on behalf of the organization.