FDA/CFSAN is a scientific regulatory agency responsible for the safety of the nation's domestically produced and imported foods, cosmetics and other products. Its mission involves enormous amounts of science, both in the lab and in the field. There is also a great deal of scientific interchange between the Center and its constituents, including industry, public interest groups, members of the media, and the public at large, as well as foreign and international organizations.
In science there is an enormous, specialized, technical vocabulary. Many of the words and phrases (names of chemicals, pathogenic species, toxic substances, and food additives) commonly used on a daily basis can be found only in specialized technical dictionaries or lexicons. In addition, complete accuracy is extremely important. For example, terms such as Enterobacter sakazakii and acrylamide have been used frequently in recent months and are difficult to spell correctly.
More and more of the Center's day-to-day communication is taking place electronically, particularly over the Internet through the FDA web site and via e-mail. One of the advantages of electronic communication is the ease of creating, formatting, and revising extremely large documents. Computers now do many once tedious tasks automatically. One of those tasks is proofreading/spell-checking. As mentioned above, scientific documents contain a great deal of specialized terminology - terminology that is not present in the typical spell-checker. This fact means that highly educated scientists, often taking valuable time away from their principal duties, must still perform proofreading and other tedious tasks manually.
To help alleviate these tedious tasks, the Scientific Computer Support Branch has created the CFSAN Technical Lexicon. This is an electronic text file derived from the CFSAN Thesaurus, which installs into most word processors or email clients in a few minutes. It contains a comprehensive list of approximately fifteen thousand technical and scientific terms commonly used in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in correspondence and regulatory documents. Once installed, spell-checkers will not flag correctly spelled technical terms as misspellings. In addition, misspelled technical terms will be flagged, and the correct spelling offered as suggested spellings by the spell-checking tools of the word processor.
The CFSAN Technical Lexicon is made available for FDA Staff, the regulated industries, print media, and any other interested parties to download and install as an addition to their word processing spell checker. It is anticipated that there will be a savings in time for users of this supplement to their spell-checker. Requests for clarification will be reduced to much lower levels, articles will be more accurate and easier to write, and misunderstandings due to spelling errors will be avoided.
Disclaimer: The CFSAN Technical Lexicon is presented for your convenience and FDA/CFSAN makes no claims as to the completeness of the list of terms, or suitability for the purposes you intend.