Martin Cole, PhD

Martin ColeAn internationally recognized food scientist and accomplished science leader with over 20 years’ experience in research management across government, academia and industry, Dr. Martin Cole is the Chief of the newly merged Division of Animal, Food and Health Sciences (CAFHS) at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Dr Cole joined CSIRO in January 2010, serving as Chief of the Division of the Division of Food and Nutritional Sciences prior to the creation of CAFHS in July 2012.  Dr Cole is responsible for leading CSIRO’s animal, food and nutritional sciences research portfolio and developing the supporting capability to produce positive outcomes across the Australian food value chain, including productivity, biosecurity and environmental performance of the livestock production and food manufacturing industries, and the nutrition, health and satisfaction of human consumers.

Prior to joining CSIRO, he was the Director of the US National Centre for Food Safety and Technology (NCFST), a highly successful and growing research consortium between the US Food and Drug Administration,  Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago and over 30 global food companies.

Dr Cole has published and presented over 150 papers on many aspects of food science including food safety, food trends and innovation, novel processing and nutrition. He has over 12 years’ experience with the CODEX Food Hygiene Committee and has frequently been called upon as an expert by organisations such the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as well as the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Sub Committee.

With many years of experience in food policy and the development of international food safety standards, Dr Cole has received numerous awards including election as a fellow of the International Academy of Food Science & Technology. He currently chairs the International Commission on the Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICSMF), an award winning Non-Government Organisation (NGO) that has a long history of outstanding and timely contributions to the global management of food safety issues.

Born in the United Kingdom, Dr Cole graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the Manchester Metropolitan University and completed a PhD at the University of East Anglia in 1988. His career has included research and management appointments with food companies Unilever and Nabisco.

What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
By providing strategic direction to IFT based on my international experience from academia, industry and government, I will enable IFT reach its potential as a global professional group to champion the importance and role of food science in meeting the challenges of food security, food safety and health of foods.

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?

Today the global food industry is driven by strong competitive forces shaped by consumer demand. The three broad “Megashocks” (or mega-trends) that drive consumer behavior are:

  1. Food security and climate change:
  2. Health and an ageing population:
  3. Biosecurity and Food Safety:  

The global demand for food will double by 2050, with processed food making up much of the trade in food. Creating sustainable ways to feed nine billion people living mostly in cities in a responsible, sustainable way, all while the climate gets more unpredictable, is one of the biggest challenges we will face globally. As well as providing enough food, we also face two other global health challenges from food, relating to the nutritional quality and safety of the global food supply. The trends in diet-related chronic illness, population growth and demographics, if unchecked, predict a future health burden that is simply not sustainable.

Global food megatrends are converging around the consumer’s desire for foods that are healthy, convenient, premium quality and ethical. The rapid globalisation of food processing and retailing, natural, more convenient products, and an overall increase in the population’s susceptibility has also seen food safety emerge as a worldwide public health issue. During this period, issues related to chemical and allergen contamination of food have increased and are now a major cause of food recalls internationally which present a significant threat to global food security. Increasing concerns over the chemical safety of foods has arisen through environmental contamination, economic adulteration, malicious contamination, processing and packaging, natural toxins and the use of new technologies. Advances in genomics, food and nutritional sciences offer exciting new possibilities for innovation to improve public health aspects of food and also to meet the consumer megatrends. However, success will require the integration of these disciplines and an intricate networking and collaboration among all stakeholders involved.

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?
To help provide strategic direction to IFT based on international experience from academia, industry and government. To help IFT reach it potential as a global professional group to champion the importance and role of food science in meeting the challenges of food security, food safety and health of foods. The solution to the complex megatrends related to food requires cross science discipline and stakeholders to work collaboratively. IFT is the only professional body with the breadth, critical mass and international membership in food science to be able to make a difference.

What defines a successful board and how would you contribute?
A successful board has a keen sense of priorities, values teamwork and looks at the big picture. A successful board should provide strategic leadership and international linkages without compromising creativity within the institute. It should act a role model to encourage new players to the professions. I would like to bring my international experience from government, academia and industry to help guide the IFT through its important role of championing food science and technology and enable the institute to use its potential to solve the global food challenges and megashocks. I think I would be most able to assist in the area of food safety and also areas where food safety, processing and nutrition come together, especially around global food regulations.

Formal Education 
PhD, 1988, Institute of Food Research, University of East Anglia
BS, 1984, Biological Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University

Career History

CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Sciences, Sydney, Australia Chief July 2012-Present
CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, Sydney, Australia Chief January 2010-June 2012
National Centre for Food Safety and Technology, Chicago, USA Director July 2004-December 2009
Food Science Australia, Sydney, Australia, Deputy CEO March 2003-July 2004
Australian Commonwealth Scientific, Industrial and Research Organisation Group Manager
Food Safety and Quality September 2000-March 2003
Australian Commonwealth Scientific, Industrial and Research Organisation Chief Research Scientist August 1999-September 2000

Leadership Experience

  • International Commission on the Microbiological Specifications for Food, (ICSMF) Chair 2000-Present
  • Dairy Technical Services, Melbourne, Australia Director 2011-Present
  • IFT Global Regulations and Policy TaskForce and Codex Subject Experts Chair 2008-2010
  • National Centre for Food Safety and Technology, Ex Officio member of the National Centre for Food Safety and Technology Board 2005-2009
  • Food Science Australia (joint venture between CSIRO and the Victorian Government), Ex Officio member of the Food Science Australia Board 2003-2004

Professional and Community Recognition

  • Recipient of the International Association for Food Protection 2004 Ivan Parkin Lecture for contributions and dedication to the field of food safety
  • Recipient of the International Association for Food Protection 2004 International Leadership Award for dedication to the high ideals and objectives of the Association and for the promotion of the mission outside North America
  • Recipient of the 2005 F.W. Frazier Memorial Lecture for outstanding contributions to food microbiology.
  • Awarded a special FDA citation, CFSAN Director’s award for service as Director of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology in 2010
  • The International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (IMCSF) received the 2008 Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Food Safety Award at the annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) in Columbus, Ohio in August 2008
  • The National Center for Food Safety and Technology was awarded an IFT Innovation Award for the first ever commercialization of a shelf-stable product using high pressure technology. The program honours outstanding innovation in products, equipment, instrumentation, technology and services. A panel of eight jurors from industry, academia and government reviewed 49 entries based on degree of innovation, technical advancement, benefit to food manufacturers and/or consumers and scientific merit, Anaheim, June 2009.