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Exploring the experiences of members of the International Food Safety Authorities Network: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/10/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Acta Medica Portuguesa
Issue number10
Volume84
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)1683-1697
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) is a global network of national food safety authorities from 190 countries, managed jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to facilitate the rapid exchange of information during food safety incidents. A three-phase study of INFOSAN was launched in 2019 to characterize and examine the network as a functional community of practice and determine its value systematically and rigorously from its members’ perspectives. The first two phases of the study involved analyzing the INFOSAN Community Website and surveying of all of its members. The main objective of this third and final phase of the study was to understand the experiences of a small group of INFOSAN members as they relate to various dimensions of membership. A qualitative methodology was used to provide a deeper understanding of members’ experiences and supplement the results from the first two quantitative study phases. Interviews were conducted with 10 INFOSAN members from 10 geographic regions, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The results offer an understanding of INFOSAN members’ experiences in the context of what participation in this global network means to them and relate to five themes concerning trust, learning, health protection, sense of community, and future potential. The findings suggest that focusing on outreach to sustain personal interest, training to improve technical capacity, and advocacy to obtain political buy-in are ways in which the INFOSAN Secretariat could enable participation and create value at the individual, organizational, and national level, respectively. Such engagement could translate into more effective international communication during urgent food safety incidents and fewer cases of foodborne illness worldwide.