Using Elsevier’s Reference Module in Food Science to provide first-rate consulting

As an independent scientific and regulatory affairs consultant I found myself at the mercy of internet searches, having to wade through numerous articles - many of which were ultimately of little value. It was often difficult to refine an internet search for information on a specific subject without receiving articles that were out of date, barely relevant because they were a small part of a larger presentation, or written by people who were not authoritative sources on the subject.  I do not have access to a library of hardcopy books on the job and many of my clients want an immediate answer “now”.  Being able to react and respond quickly with meaningful, accurate and up-to-date information is a necessity to enable my clients to potentially reduce the time necessary to realize their objectives.

Reference Module solving multiple issues

As a solution I turned to Elsevier’s Reference Module in Food Science.  This Reference Module contains trusted, peer-reviewed, comprehensive content from Elsevier’s reference works curated by a world-class editorial board. It is designed for faster, more relevant browsing within the subject and beyond, with "Feature Articles" for quick, clear overviews, intuitive subject hierarchies to put everything in context, and guidance to lead researchers to related knowledge. This dynamic work will change as science changes.

I found the Reference Module to be a major advantage to my work, allowing me to search for articles on multiple subjects, all in the one location. I now have a dedicated library relating to all aspects of food science at my fingertips. And when I have had to search outside the Reference Module for advanced information, it is usually done using an author or reference cited in a specific article from the reference module - thus providing a more targeted search

As a Consultant I am expected to provide a balanced view of all aspects of a client’s needs. Gone are the days when consultants could restrict their advice to a single subject. While clients do not necessarily expect consultants to be an authority on everything, they do want a more holistic response to an issue. The Reference Module solves this challenge by providing additional reading and “See also” sections at the bottom of articles, allowing the consultant to look further for information. I could provide an answer simply from a purist regulatory affairs perspective based on my knowledge but being able to also offer direction or information on food safety, environmental, analytical and/or processing issues adds credibility and more complete responses, and reduces the clients’ reaction time to an issue.

The Reference Module in Food Science also allows the consultant to search quickly and easily for relevant and up-to-date information on issues. Because the articles will be reviewed for currency every one to three years (depending on how fast that area of the field develops), the Reference Module will maintain its relevance. I know that science is evolving all the time and that even within three years, I can expect to see some changes on issues but the articles in the Reference Module provide authoritative sources I can use to refine any search for additional or more recent information, often from the same author.

Built-in hierarchy allows rapid access to related information

The hierarchy within each subject of the Reference Modules enables consultants to easily understand the scope and range of topics covered, unlike the internet where searches are generally unable to provide authoritative information on the context relating to the topic or additional topics that may also be relevant.

I was recently asked by a colleague if I could provide information relating to the manufacture of a specific food product using alternative ingredients. While I did have some information at hand, a quick search in the Reference Module in Food Science offered a number of articles relating not only to the technology involved but safety issues and, as an added bonus, to textural aspects that affected consumer acceptance. Additional searches using authors cited in these articles revealed more information on food chemistry and production aspects, which also proved to be helpful. And again, the best part for me is that it is all available in one location.

With more than 40 years of experience in a number of disciplines including scientific and regulatory affairs, quality assurance, production, and product development applications, as a consultant I can now bring an added dimension to the services I provides to my clients, thanks to Elsevier’s Reference Module in Food Science.

Read more about each Reference Module in the Editor’s notes below:

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Contributed by


Neil Smith
Neil W. Smith is a food industry professional with over 40 years of experience in a number of disciplines including Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, Quality Assurance, Production, and Product Development Applications. He has worked for major international companies such as Nestlé, Kraft, and Cadbury in local and regional roles, across a number of product types including dairy, confectionery, beverages, and savoury foods industries. Neil has formal qualifications in packaging technology and dairy technology having graduated from the Gilbert Chandler Institute of Dairy Technology in Melbourne. He has also been a qualified lead food safety auditor. He is the subject editor for the Food Management, Policy, and Regulations section of the Reference Module in Food Science.