Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions
1. What is the International Food Science Certification Commission (IFSCC)?
2. Why was the Certified Food Scientist (CFS) program created?
3. What's the difference between a certification and an academic degree/capstone?
Eligibility
4. What are the eligibility requirements to become a CFS?
5. Is there a membership requirement to earn the CFS?
6. I am an IFT Fellow. Why should I earn my CFS?
7. I am a Professional IFT member. Why should I obtain my CFS?
Exam
8. When and where is the exam being held?
9. I have special needs. How do I request special accommodations for the examination?
10. How will I know if I passed the exam? What happens when I pass the exam?
11. What happens if I don’t pass the exam?
12. What does the CFS exam cover?
13. What resources are available to help me prepare?
14. Who writes the exam questions?
Recertification
15. Are there recertification requirements?


General Questions

1. What is the International Food Science Certification Commission (IFSCC)?

The International Food Science Certification Commission (IFSCC) is a volunteer group created by the IFT Board of Directors with programmatic development and policy making responsibility for the Certified Food Scientist certification program.

2. Why was the Certified Food Scientist (CFS) program created?

Through the CFS program, for the first time, the food science profession has a formal certification program to recognize the applied scientific knowledge and skills of food scientists. This certification, obtained by passing an exam, tests food scientists on a central body of knowledge that defines the core professional competencies of a food scientist.  The CFS serves as a mark of distinction and trust for the public and food science professionals.

The purpose of the CFS is to:

  • Assess the applied knowledge and skills of food scientists;
  • Assure consumers that food scientists have demonstrated the knowledge essential to their job role/functions;
  • Help employers, practitioners, and the public identify individuals with certain knowledge and skills;
  • Raise the visibility and credibility of the food science profession through a certification program; and
  • Promote life-long learning related to the food science profession.

Additionally, for professionals working in the food science field, but do not have a BS, MS or Ph.D. in food science, obtaining the CFS will help them demonstrate their application of fundamental science knowledge to the food sector. 

Learn more about the CFS benefits for food professionals.
Learn more about the CFS benefits for employers.
Learn more about the basic elements of the CFS program.

3. What's the difference between a certification and an academic degree/capstone?

Although both certifications and academic degrees are important to professionals, they serve different purposes.  Certification programs test how professionals synthesize the information they learn during their academic programs and their ability to put it into practice.  To qualify to sit for a certification exam, candidates are typically required to have an academic degree in addition to a designated amount of on the job work experience.  A capstone tests the basic scientific knowledge of a university academic degree program.


Eligibility

4. What are the eligibility requirements to become a CFS?

Please refer to http://www.ift.org/certification/forcandidates/eligibility.aspx  to view the eligibility requirements.

5. Is there a membership requirement to earn the CFS?

No.  You do not need to be a member of IFT to receive your CFS.

6. I am an IFT Fellow. Why should I earn my CFS?

Recognition as an IFT Fellow is an important honor bestowed upon you by your peers.  Professional certification is an important voluntary process through which practitioners demonstrate their knowledge and ability in a given field. By becoming a CFS, you not only showcase your scientific accomplishments, but you have the opportunity to help establish professional milestones for tomorrow’s food science leaders. The CFS establishes an important hallmark for the food science community and shows your dedication to lifelong learning and a commitment to ethical behavior.

7. I am a Professional IFT member. Why should I obtain my CFS?

As an IFT Professional Member, you are in a membership category that recognizes your educational background and years of experience in the profession. This is different from a professional certification, which is a voluntary process through which practitioners demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in a given field. Because you are an authority in food science as well as a Professional Member, becoming a CFS may benefit you and the IFT community at large, providing an example for tomorrow’s food science leaders, as we all work together to raise the visibility and credibility of our profession. It is also recognition of your commitment to lifelong learning and professional growth.  Please note that being a Professional IFT member does not guarantee of approval to sit for the exam, as there are different requirements for both programs.


Exam

8. When and where is the exam being held?

The CFS exam is a computer-based test that you may take at any of Pearson Vue’s (our test partner) 5,000 testing centers across the world.  The exam is offered during designated testing cycles.  For a list of upcoming testing dates and to search for testing centers near you, please visit http://www.ift.org/certification/forcandidates/application-and-testing.aspx.

9. I have special needs. How do I request special accommodations for the examination?

The International Food Science Certification Commission complies with the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and will make reasonable accommodations for candidates when needed.  If you require special accommodations, please indicate so on your application.  You will be asked to identify the disability that substantially limits your ability to arrive at, read or otherwise complete the computer based examination as well as the special testing accommodation(s) requested.  You will also be asked to provide the International Food Science Certification Commission with written documentation from a healthcare provider that supports the need for the special accommodation(s) you are requesting.  This medical documentation must be provided within 7 business days of submitting your application.  Medical documentation should be emailed to ifscc@ift.org.  We will not reimburse you for any costs associated with obtaining this documentation. If you have already submitted your application, please send an email to ifscc@ift.org to submit your request.

10. How will I know if I passed the exam? What happens when I pass the exam?

You will receive an email notification within six weeks of the end of your testing cycle with your exam results.  This email will contain a link to our “CFS Credential Holder Toolkit” that contains many resources for you including a customizable press release, information on how to use the CFS logo on your business collateral and information on your official CFS certificate.

11. What happens if I don't pass the exam?

If you do not pass the exam, you may retake it during any other testing cycle upon payment of the retesting fee. You may take the exam twice in any one-year period. If you fail the exam and wish to retake it more than a year after the approval of your initial application, you must request an extension of your authorization to test and you will need to pay the retest fee.  Access the Retest Form.

12. What does the CFS exam cover?

The knowledge included in the exam content was developed through a statistically valid research study (practice analysis) involving more than 1,800 global food science professionals. This diverse group of respondents helped to ensure that the CFS exam truly reflects the global profession and tests the applied knowledge that food scientists use every day.
The CFS exam covers the following content areas:
  • Product Development
  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control
  • Food Chemistry and Food Analysis
  • Regulatory
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Safety
  • Food Engineering
  • Sensory Evaluation and Consumer Testing

The exam includes traditional multiple-choice questions and answers that are objectively scored. They are scenario-based items that:

  1. Present a problem situation.
  2. Ask the test taker to consider all of the available information in the item
  3. Ask the test taker to select a response that is the best based on the intended response to the conditions and the information provided.

See  examples of CFS exam questions. (PDF)
Download the Candidate Handbook (Link to PDF) to see the exam content outline.

13. What resources are available to help me prepare?

As with any assessment, preparation is recommended for success.  There are many resources to help you prepare to take the CFS exam. 

  1. Optional CFS Preporatory Course – Learn more and register.
  2. Publication Resources - Access the resource list.
  3. Sample Exam Questions – View the samples.

14. Who writes the exam questions?

A group of global subject matter experts (SMEs) with expertise in all of the CFS content domains, write the CFS exam questions. These SMEs include industry practitioners, academicians, government officials, and consultants from all over the world. All of the SMEs are trained by professional psychometricians (experts in the science of educational and psychological measurements) to write fair and unbiased questions.  These questions then go through a rigorous peer review process to ensure their accuracy and global applicability.


Recertification

15. Are there recertification requirements?

Yes, as with other professional certification programs, there are recertification requirements. Learn more about the recertification requirements.