Larry Keener is president and chief executive officer of International Product Safety Consultants, Inc. (IPSC) based in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1996, IPSC is a global leader in providing food safety and food technology solutions to the food processing industry for a broad client base of Fortune 500 food companies, academic research institutes and government agencies.
Larry has more than 30 years' experience in the food processing industry, holding positions in private industry, with the State of California, and with the National Food Processors Association. He was formerly the Director of Product Safety and Regulatory Affairs for Unilever, and more recently he has served as U.S. business development liaison for Australia’s Commonwealth Sciences and Industry Research Organization (CSIRO). Larry is a member of the editorial advisory board at Food Safety Magazine.
Larry has a long record of involvement, both nationally and internationally, with food industry issues. Larry is vice president and co-chair of the Austrian-based Global Harmonization Initiative (GHI), an organization founded in 2004 to promote harmonization of food safety legislation and regulations. He has written many papers and book chapters on food safety and process validation, and is a frequently invited speaker to food industry, business and scientific conferences, workshops and seminars.
Larry is recognized as a process authority in the food industry, and frequently works with food companies in this capacity to communicate the processor's regulatory responsibilities, assess risk and adequacy of controls for entire processing operations from raw materials receipt to finished product storage and distribution, and provide advice and direction with regard to regulatory impact and food safety risk that changes in operations might cause. As such, his areas of expertise range from applied food microbiology and sanitation methods, the development and application of thermal and non-thermal processing and preservation technologies, including high pressure processing (HPP), microwave and pulsed electric field (PEF), and design and implementation of food management and control systems and strategies,
Larry is actively involved in the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), presently serving as chair, Finance and Business Relations Committee for IFT's Non-Thermal Processing Division. Larry is past chair of IFT's NPD, and has served as co-chair and member of the division's Scientific Advisory and Planning Committees for the successful NPD workshop series. He is an adjunct professor of food science and technology at Tuskegee University, and is past president of Tuskegee University’s Food and Nutritional Sciences Advisory Board. Larry is a U.S. Army veteran.
What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
I believe in the IFT movement, which is embodied in the organization's tagline: Feeding the minds that feed the world. I have keen interest in and an appreciation of the strategic imperatives necessary for sustaining and advancing the movement’s future. My goal is to contribute to feeding the vision that fosters relevance and value to the organization's global membership.
To grow the organization and advance IFT’s agenda it is fundamentally imperative that IFT is recognized as a critical player in advancing issues in food science and technology globally. Achieving and sustaining relevance requires that IFT understand its leadership position in the value chain to best leverage its infrastructure and membership in the delivery of top-level solutions for issues facing today's food science practitioners. Value to membership is also an imperative for growth. IFT, first and foremost, is an organization of dues-paying volunteers. IFT’s growth is dependent on the willingness of its membership to support and advance the organization’s core values. Hence, IFT’s core values should align with and support its members' aims, as well as to the companies and institutions that they represent. Sustaining and growing the IFT movement requires, at all times, that the organization is receptive to the voice of its membership and discerning as to how to foster and utilize stakeholders' feedback for purposes of creating a tenable value proposition for the membership.
I have worked for many years in building relationships with leading industry organizations, regulatory agencies, research institutes, professional societies and universities around the world. As a result of my personal and professional connections I am in a position to credibly promote IFT as the leading professional international society for food science and technology professionals. My years of involvement in domestic and international affairs related to the processing and preservation of food will allow me to contribute to the IFT leadership in setting and securing meaningful strategic objectives that are aligned with the expectations and desires of the organization’s membership. I believe that my leadership roles in food science and technology for the past 30 years have provided me the insights and sensitivities to the broad array of near- and long-term challenges and opportunities in food science and technology of interest to IFT and its members. Sharing my experiences and insights with IFT as a member of its Board of Directors will enable me to contribute to the growth of the IFT movement.
What are the three most important strategic issues facing the profession and the industry that align with IFT’s goals and how would you address these as a member of the Board of Directors?
Attracting new talent to the field of food science and technology is one of the most significant challenges we face as a profession and in the food industry globally. Among the ways in which I would approach this challenge as a member of the IFT Board of Directors is to explore collaborative opportunities with universities to promote student interest and enrollment in food science and technology related disciplines. My work with Tuskegee University's Food and Nutritional Sciences Advisory Board for the past several years has given me an up-close look at how important it is to motivate and inspire up-and-coming generations of food scientists and technology innovators. Just as the food industry promotes the concept of sustainable development in the supply chain, so too must we promote sustained and sustainable educational pathways to feed the minds of these new food safety and quality professionals.
Globalization of food supply chains without advancing measures to reconcile relevant legislation, laws and regulation is another issue upon which IFT can have a significant—and positive—impact. The benefits of harmonization—elimination of trade barriers masquerading as science-based policy, the reduction of food disease outbreaks and world hunger, and the promotion of technological innovation—are achievable if international food safety laws and regulations are based on science. IFT is well-positioned to be the vanguard of this issue, and has identified harmonization of conflicting international laws and regulations as an area of high interest for the membership. I would work diligently with the board to ensure that advancing IFT's initiatives to harmonize global food safety regulations and legislation remain a priority, and that related issues are given visibility among the membership and are communicated with all IFT science divisions.
Promoting the advancement and adoption of new technologies that have the associated benefits of improving both the abundance and quality of the food supply is a strategic issue that is also important. Of course, this is clearly aligned with IFT's goals and the organization is recognized the world over for its members' efforts to discover and advance applied technologies that improve the ways we make foods safer, wholesome and available to consumers worldwide. If elected to the IFT Board of Directors, I plan to contribute my expertise in this area to promote education initiatives that keep members informed of new and emerging technologies. In the recent past, IFT's Non-Thermal Processing Division, for example, has had great success in providing educational outreach to members globally through targeted workshops and conferences. NPD has endeavored to actively make members aware of and advance applications of innovative science-based approaches and technologies that can be commercialized and put into practical use at all points along the food supply chain. I would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with board colleagues to find ways to expand and utilize this educational outreach model for the benefit of IFT members.
Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors and how has your work and volunteer experiences prepared you to be a strategic board member?
My career in the food processing industry has been multifaceted, which has fostered and enriched lasting professional relationships with business and scientific leaders in the field of food safety science and technology, as well as given me meaningful opportunities to advance commerce and preserve the public health. Due to the wealth of my experiences over the past three decades, I feel compelled to give back to the organizations and institutions that have given me so much. IFT is chief among these institutions. My work in the private sector for a major multinational food company has given me a unique perspective on the challenges faced by the industry and strategic insights as to how these issues might be resolved.
What defines a successful board?
A successful board of directors is characterized by its diversity. It is precisely the diversity of experience and professional training that enables a board to advise the organization’s leadership about matters of importance to the organization and its membership moving forward. My years of involvement in domestic and international affairs related to the processing and preservation of food will allow me to contribute to IFT as a leader to set and secure meaningful strategic objectives that are aligned with the expectations desires and aspirations of the organization’s membership.
BSc, Biology/Environmental Sciences with emphasis in Microbiology, University of California— Berkeley (1977)
International Product Safety Consultants President and CEO 1996-Present
Unilever Director of Product Safety and Regulatory Affairs 1985-1996
University of California at San Francisco Sr. Research Microbiologist 1981-1985
National Food Processors Assn Sr. Research Microbiologist 1979-1985
- Food Safety Magazine Chair Food Safety Awards Committee 2002-Present
- IFT Chair Finance and Business Relations Committee NPD 2011-Present
- IFT Member-at-Large, NPD 2008-2012
- IFT Co-Chair, NPD workshop 2007-2007
- Tuskegee University International Food Nutrition Conferences Scientific Advisory/Planning Committees 2005 and 2011
- IFT Chair, NPD 2005-2008
- Tuskegee University President Food and Nutritional Sciences Advisory Board 2005-2012
- Global Harmonization Initiative Co-chair and co-Founder 2004-Present
- IFT Scientific Advisory/Planning Committees for NPD Workshops 2000-Present
Professional and Community Recognition
- 2012 Tuskegee University - Presidential Letter of Commendation
- 2012 Tuskegee University Food and Nutritional Sciences Advisory Board - Outstanding Service Award
- 2012 IFT Outstanding Service Award – Non-Thermal Processing Division
- 2011 Outstanding Service Award – 3rd International Food and Nutritional Sciences Conference
- 2010 IFT Innovation Award; Validation team leader NCFST for PATS project
- Institute of Food Technologists Food Expo Innovation Award. 2009. DUST consortium's pressure assisted thermal sterilization process (awarded to the NCFST).
- 2008 Outstanding Service Award – 9th World Spice Congress, Goa India;
- 2006 Food Safety World Conference and Expo – Food Safety Education Award
- 2006 Outstanding Member Award- Tuskegee University’s Food and Nutritional Sciences Advisory Board
- 1990 Nutmeg Section IFT- Service Award
- 1982 Food Processors Sanitation Association – Outstanding and Meritorious Service Award