The resource promises to offer ‘a counterbalance to the one-dimensional narratives often found in mainstream media’ by offering expertly curated content on sustainability and food science.
Launched by non-profit publisher and educational charity IFIS Publishing, the database distinguishes itself from conventional online libraries like Wiley, PubMed and Google Scholar because of its exclusive focus on sustainability and food science, we were told.
“We provide access to a specialized compilation of studies and data not readily available in a single location,” said Katy Askew, managing director of IFIS Publishing. “Another key differentiator is our rigorous curation process, managed by a dedicated team of food and data scientists. They meticulously vet and index content for relevance, trustworthiness, and timeliness.”
The NGO claims it takes ‘a firm stance’ against predatory content to ensure information available through the platform is ‘reliable, reputable, and free from low-quality or unethical research’. “So far, we have identified and excluded 147 predatory journals, with 146 of these found on Google Scholar and 44 indexed in PubMed,” Askew added. “Trust is paramount in the academic realm, and as high as 25% of global scientific research is estimated to be published through predatory channels.”
While the database, known as IFIS Sustainability, aims to cover the entire spectre of food science and sustainability research, dairy industry stakeholders can narrow down the available information to access industry-specific research. “With our multi-disciplinary content and user-friendly search features, professionals in the dairy sector can enhance their work, drive innovation, and contribute to a more sustainable and knowledge-driven future for the industry,” Askew told us.
“Our database offers a wealth of content relevant to the dairy industry, including research papers, reports, and patents covering various facets of dairy production, processing, and innovation.
“This includes studies on dairy product formulation, dairy processing technologies, the development of dairy alternatives, quality control, and safety measures. Stakeholders can access in-depth information that aids in product development, process optimization, and addressing industry-specific challenges.”
Emerging trends such as the development of plant-based dairy alternatives, innovations in dairy packaging, and sustainable dairy production practices are all covered within, as well as research topics around food science, nutrition, sustainability, food safety, and quality control.
A simple search query for 'dairy' would yield ‘a rich tapestry of research themes’, we were told. “These include lifecycle assessments to evaluate the environmental impact of dairy production, strategies for enhancing the nutritional value of dairy products, and investigations into animal health and welfare,” said Askew. “The database also delves into innovative approaches like biodiesel production from dairy waste and the impact of regulatory convergence on sustainable dairy practices. This scientific focus is invaluable for decision-makers who want data-driven insights.”
Analyzing keyword use in IFIS Sustainability uncovers core research themes related to dairy, such as nutrition, food economics, materials and packaging, and biotechnology. “These themes provide a comprehensive view of the dairy industry's sustainable practices, challenges, and innovative solutions,” the MD added. “Access to this insight can guide industry stakeholders in making more informed and sustainable decisions.”
Asked how the resources available through the new digital tool could help bring underrepresented facets of dairy-related sustainability research to the fore, she stated: “The sustainability of the dairy industry is a complex issue that deserves a nuanced discussion. The mainstream conversation often lacks the depth and diverse perspectives required to address this multifaceted topic. Our database can be a game-changer in this regard. By providing access to a wealth of research from various disciplines, we aim to offer a counterbalance to the one-dimensional narratives often found in mainstream media.
“We do this by offering diverse perspectives. IFIS Sustainability draws from a wide range of academic disciplines and subject-matter experts. This diversity ensures that decision-makers in the dairy industry can access a broad spectrum of viewpoints, from environmental scientists to nutritionists, economists, and biotechnologists. This breadth of knowledge empowers industry leaders to make informed decisions that consider various aspects of sustainability.”
The service had been in the works for the past 18 months and was launched in response to the challenges faced by the food industry in the context of climate change and the need for more sustainable practices. There are two access tiers – a free tier and a paid ‘Pro’ service. “The distinction lies in the timeframe of the data it contains,” Askew explained. “The free resource is a dynamic database, continuously updated, and includes over 10,000 articles from the past six months. In contrast, the paid Pro version encompasses historical data dating back to our initial A&I database indexing in 1969, over 90,000 articles, providing a comprehensive archive of research over time.”
To access the service, users need to create an account at ifis.org/ifis-sustainability by providing their name, place of work or study, job role and email address, after which they are issued with access credentials. A free trial is also offered to those who wish to try the full service before taking a paid subscription.