The International Union of Food Science & Technology (IUFoST) was formally constituted during an International Congress in Washington, D.C., in 1970. Leaders of the Institute of Food Technologists have played important parts in its formation and subsequent development, notably George Stewart, who was its first Secretary General and later its President; Richard Hall, who served as its President and until recently was Chair of its Constitution Committee; and Owen Fennema, who served on its Executive Committee and for a time was Vice President.
When it was first suggested that I might contribute a 30th Anniversary article on IUFoST for Food Technology, I was astounded to learn that in all those years of IUFoST’s existence, only one article about it (Fennema, 1995) has ever appeared in Food Technology. To many IFT members, therefore, IUFoST must rank as the best-kept secret of all time.
Too little is known of its nature, its past achievements, which have been considerable, or the present and future importance, for global food science and technology, of its newly adopted Constitution and Strategic Plan and of its current international activities. This article will provide this information.
The literal meaning of “international” is “among nations.” IFT members in countries outside the U.S. have often been mistakenly referred to as “international members” and organizations of other countries as “international organizations.” They are nothing of the sort. An accurate collective term in both cases would be “non-U.S.” Real international organizations are those in which a large number of nations band together for a particular purpose. Examples are the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Standards Organization (ISO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), Codex Alimentarius, and international science unions such as IUFoST. It is in this sense that international is used in this article.
In the U.S. and Germany, the adjective federal has come to be very specifically related to federal governments and their agencies. Its wider meaning and the sense it which it is used in this article simply relate to any federation of organizations linking together for a particular purpose.
Origins of IUFoST
The idea that science knows no frontiers has been around as long as I can remember, and the older, longer-established sciences have long since had their global communities. The vision of creating a global food science community, however, was first informally discussed during 1958–59, when the suggestion was made to hold an international congress. The 1st International Congress of Food Science and Technology took place in London in September 1962, attended by 1,200 scientists and technologists from more than 40 countries. I was there, and it was an inspiring occasion. At the end, it was agreed that a special committee be formed to promote and foster international cooperation in food science and technology.
Immediately after the Congress ended, a number of eminent scientists from various countries formed themselves into an ad hoc International Committee of Food Science & Technology (ICFoST) to pursue those proposals and pave the way for an International Union. Work proceeded for a decade, including the holding of the 2nd International Congress in Warsaw in 1966 and the 3rd in Washington, D.C., in 1970, at which IUFoST was formally brought into constitutional being.
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Nature and Structure
So what is IUFoST? Giving the first International Division Lecture at the IFT Annual Meeting in Atlanta in June 1998, the then IUFoST President, Peter Biacs, correctly described it as “a country-membership organization . . . the sole global food science and technology organization.”
It is important to understand that, as in the longer-established International Unions of other sciences, it is a country membership, not a society membership. Like them, IUFoST permits only a single “adhering body” (AB) from each country (defined as a geographical entity with a national government and science budget). Table 1, showing a comparison between IFT and IUFoST, may be helpful to those familiar with the former in understanding the nature and structure of the latter.
IUFoST currently has ABs from 63 countries, representing more than 150,000 food scientists and technologists throughout the world. In addition, four Regional Groupings of ABs have been established within IUFoST with IUFoST-approved Constitutions: the European Federation of Food Science & Technology (EFFoST); the Federation of Institutes of Food Science & Technology of ASEAN (FIFSTA); the Eastern, Central & South African Associations of Food Science & Technology (ECSAAFoST); and La Asociación Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos (ALACCTA, the Latin American and Caribbean Association of Food Science and Technology).
National ABs are in some cases the national academies of science; in some a joint (federal) committee representing several relevant societies in the country concerned (as, for example, in Germany and the United Kingdom); and in other cases a single society or professional body. The latter currently applies in the U.S., where IFT is the AB representing the U.S. It is important to understand that the delegates appointed by IFT are regarded and described not as IFT delegates but as U.S. delegates.
Purposes and Activities
IUFoST has as its primary purposes the encouragement and fostering of international cooperation and exchange of knowledge and ideas among food scientists and technologists; progress in the fields of theoretical and applied food science for improvements in the processing, manufacturing, preservation, and distribution of food products; the education and training of food scientists and technologists; and development of both individual professionalism and professional organization among food scientists and technologists. With respect to the latter purpose, it adopted in 1991 a set of Guidelines on Professional Behavior.
In addition to the World Congresses, IUFoST sponsors meetings and symposia in various parts of the world, as well as short courses and workshops in food science and technology, sometimes in collaboration with national bodies and sometimes also with other International Unions.
Currently, IUFoST is:
• Working with the United Nations University (UNU) to provide “long distance” “virtual learning” schemes to address the deficiencies of technical expertise present in many least developed and developing countries.
• Collaborating with the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) in compiling a “dictionary” of food science/food technology terminology in multiple languages for the non-English-speaking experts around the world who must use a language foreign to them.
• Preparing food science and technology core curricula and course content guidelines, assembled from national syllabuses, to provide international guidelines.
• Fostering closer collaboration with international consumer organizations and business to further international work of importance to all sectors of the food industry.
• Identifying and promoting international programs on student exchange, and exchange of scientists and manager/technologists of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
• Actively supporting regional symposia and workshops, with Governing Council meetings held in conjunction with regional symposia, by providing expert speakers and technical support, as well as funds and international recognition of the events.
• Running an Internet conference, in conjunction with the Korean AB, for pre-Congress discussion of the topics for the 11th World Congress to be held in Seoul, Korea, in April 2001.
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IUFoST sees an urgent need for development of a strategic plan for food science and technology that incorporates the broad views of science and industry together. To prepare a unified and global approach to the development of food science and technology in this century and to best achieve “Food for All” as proclaimed by FAO, the support and advice of scientists and industry must be enlisted in a global forum and a long-range plan and vision for the future toward which we will all work together. The aim is the establishment of a platform from which science and industry may cooperate on major scientific issues related to food.
With the adoption of the new Constitution and Strategic Plan, enthusiasm regarding new improvements can lead to unjustified disparagement of past achievements, as is often the case. So what were the past achievements of IUFoST (done, let it be remembered, with few resources and almost entirely by a relatively small number of volunteers)?
• Congresses. IUFoST organizes the World Congresses in collaboration with the AB of the host country. The first three of the quadrennial World Congresses have already been mentioned. The subsequent World Congresses were held in Madrid, Spain, in 1974; Kyoto, Japan, in 1978; Dublin, Ireland, in 1982; Singapore in 1987; Toronto, Canada, in 1991; Budapest, Hungary, in 1995; and Sydney, Australia, in October 1999.
There is very keen interest internationally to host future Congresses. Pressure from all five continents is such that the Congresses will be held biennially in the future. The 11th World Congress will be held in Seoul, Korea, in 2001, and the 12th in Chicago in 2003.
Close collaboration with the International Union of Nutritional Sciences ensures that the respective Congresses do not occur in the same year.
• Scientific Journal. The official scientific publication of IUFoST since 1993 is Lebensmittel-Wissenschaft und Technologie (Food Science and Technology), a respected international journal for food chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, technology, engineering, and nutrition. It is published by Academic Press in conjunction with the Swiss Society of Food Science and Technology.
• Newsletter. The quarterly information bulletin, Newsline, containing news of IUFoST and contributions from ABs and individuals, has been produced and a limited number of copies distributed to ABs for many years. Although ABs are free to reproduce its contents, it is questionable how many individual members beyond the ABs’ officers saw the contents. Now that Newsline is available on the IUFoST Web site (www.inforamp.net/~iufost), it is more widely read.
• International Academy. In 1997, IUFoST created the International Academy of Food Science & Technology to “identify and recognize individuals distinguished by their scientific and professional contribution to food science and technology.” The first meeting of the Academy took place during the 10th World Congress in October 1999. There are 59 Fellows of the Academy (see Food Technology, June 2000, p. 110).
Relationship to Other Organizations
Each science has its “international union” of nations, a global non-governmental federation of national country-member bodies of the science concerned. The International Unions themselves are banded into a federation initially called the International Council of Science Unions (ICSU) and recently renamed the International Council of Science but retaining the ICSU acronym.
The international unions of the single-discipline sciences are long-established; but inevitably that of the relatively young food science and technology was formally constituted much later (1970). IUFoST was admitted into ICSU only as an associate member—a sort of protege and poor relation of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS)—because the existing ICSU members did not accept food science as a proper science in its own right. It was only in 1996—after an intensive campaign explaining the multidisciplinary nature of food science and technology, explaining the scope for collaboration with the International Unions of relevant individual science disciplines, and highlighting the past achievements of IUFoST—that it was admitted to ICSU as a full member, thus at last gaining recognition of food science by the other sciences. This is of great benefit to food science and food scientists worldwide.
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In addition, IUFoST has a standing invitation to make recommendations to FAO and WHO and to contribute to their programs on appropriate food-related projects. IUFoST has close relations with FAO and has taken part in part in FAO-sponsored discussions on Food Composition for Developing Countries. Likewise, it has close relations with Codex Alimentarius, helps WHO identify consultants with special expertise for development projects, planned a program on food safety in developing countries in collaboration with WHO, and collaborates with the United Nations University.
It has been involved in the work of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), was represented at the OECD Consultations on Biotechnology in Paris in 1999 and Edinburgh in 2000, and has contributed to the OECD biotechnology recommendations requested by the G8 powers for the G8 Summit in Tokyo.
Emphasis on Food Security
From its outset, IUFoST recognized that one of its most important tasks was to draw attention to the role of food science in, and to endeavor to harness the contribution of food science to, the food security of the peoples of the world. It recognized that food science by itself could not solve the problems of ensuring adequate food security, but that those problems could not be solved without the contribution of food science.
In addition to numerous IUFoST-sponsored conferences and short courses around the world, IUFoST has identified and concentrated on the following scientific areas:
• Developing Countries. With regard to postharvest research in support of sustainable development programs, the IUFoST Post Harvest Committee organized a worldwide project on food drying directed to the needs of developing countries.
• Eastern Europe. In common with a stated ICSU concern to improve the situation of science in Eastern Europe, IUFoST sponsored several activities, including a Conference on Fish Processing and a Conference on Scientific and Technical Progress in the Food Industry, both in Moscow.
• Africa. At a joint IUFoST/ECSAAFoST conference on “Food Science and Technology: Challenges for Africa Towards the Year 2000” held at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in September 1994, the Victoria Falls Declaration on food security for Africa was adopted.
• Worldwide. In the months following the Victoria Falls Declaration, work proceeded on widening its scope. As a result, the IUFoST General Assembly during the 9th World Congress in Budapest adopted the important Budapest Declaration (see www.ifst.org/budafull.htm). This amounts to nothing less than the scientific credo of the duty that food science owes to the feeding of the peoples of the world, present and future. The summary issued at the time read as follows:
“The foremost international organisation of food scientists and technologists, the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST), has formally declared its determination to work for the elimination of hunger and the reduction of all forms of malnutrition throughout the world. The delegates of 7th General Assembly of lUFoST which met in Budapest on August 4 1995 unanimously adopted the Budapest Declaration which recognised the central role of food science and technology in ensuring the continuous availability of safe and nutritionally adequate foods.”
The Budapest Declaration—which followed the World Declaration on Nutrition adopted by the FAO/WHO International Conference of Nutrition held in Rome in 1992—highlighted priority areas in food science and technology that could contribute to providing safe and nutritionally adequate diets for the world’s growing population. These included:
• Methods and technologies to promote assuring the safety and quality of foods.
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• Integrated solutions to reduce pre- and postharvest food losses.
• Beneficial application of biotechnology and other new technologies.
• Adaptation and improvement of traditional foods and processes.
• More efficient and environmentally sustainable food production and processes.
IUFoST recognized the responsibility of its member bodies to promote public understanding of the issues involving food science and technology. It further recognized that consumers must have an adequate knowledge of the basics of food safety and nutrition to protect their health and to promote their nutritional well-being.
Ted Hood, the then-outgoing IUFoST President, who presided at the session, noted that the adoption of the Budapest Declaration was an important statement of commitment by the international food science and technology community to address the problems of hunger and all forms of malnutrition in collaboration with partners in the food and agriculture sectors, as well as other interested organizations. Peter Biacs, the incoming IUFoST President, stated that food science and technology can make a unique contribution to solving the problems of hunger and malnutrition, particularly through the beneficial application of biotechnology and other new emerging technologies.
New Structure and Management of IUFoST
At its General Assembly in Sydney in October 1999, IUFoST adopted a new streamlined Constitution, involving an elected Governing Council, as well as a smaller Management Board for action between Governing Council meetings.
The Governing Council is empowered to execute the policies of the General Assembly. It is primarily responsible for the conduct of IUFoST affairs during the interval between biennial meetings of the General Assembly, such as establishment of service delivery centers to carry out approved strategies, approval of budgets, collection and disbursement of funds, and supervision of the Secretariat. It selects the time and place of International Congresses and meetings, and other events sponsored by IUFoST, and assists host nations in planning them. It deals with IUFoST membership applications.
It is composed of the President (currently Walter Spiess of Germany), President-Elect (Alan Mortimer of Australia), Scientific Council Chair (David Lineback of the U.S.), immediate Past President (Peter Biacs of Hungary), Secretary-General (J. Meech of Canada), and four (eight for 1999–2001) regular members elected from the General Assembly (G. Campbell-Platt of the UK, F.E. Escher of Switzerland, T-W. Kwon of Korea, F. Lajolo of Brazil, K. Martensson of Sweden, E.R. Mendez of Mexico, A. Mortimer of Australia, and F.G. Winarno of Indonesia).
The Management Committee implements strategies to achieve the objectives set by the Governing Council, including appointment of the Secretary-General and general direction of the Secretary-General’s activities; approving or modifying Service Delivery Center Working Groups and committee membership; preparing for approval and release the activities, budget, and output of the Center Working Groups, Scientific Commissions, and other Union bodies and approving country membership applications.
It is composed of the President, President-Elect, Scientific Council Chair, Past President, Secretary-General, and Chair of the Audit Committee (P. Bush of Australia), the latter three ex-officio and non-voting members.
The Scientific Council is independent of the Governing Council and the Management Committee and has no role in the Union’s financial affairs. Its responsibilities include maintenance of the scientific standard and integrity of all IUFoST activities; approval of all publicly released scientific matters, including the awarding of prizes and the content of learned statements on scientific matters; recommending to the Secretary-General (with advice from appropriate members of the Academy and chairs and members of Center Working Groups and scientific commissions, no larger than is essential) that IUFoST carry out specific tasks such as preparation of position papers and offering of expert advice; supervision of the scientific outputs from working groups for both quality and timeliness; and recommendation for dissolution of working groups when their original purpose is fulfilled.
It is composed of the Chair (David Lineback of the U.S.), Chair-Elect (Caj Eriksson of Sweden), Past Chair (currently vacant), and two Scientific Councilors (L. Aukrust of Norway and J. Chirife of Argentina), plus the President and the Secretary-General as ex-officio and non-voting members.
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The General Assembly also adopted a Strategic Plan (available on the IUFoST Web site at http://home.inforamp.net/~iufost/strategicplan.html). The main feature of the Strategic Plan is the establishment of six Service Delivery Centers (SDCs) to provide services to the adhering bodies and other stakeholders:
SDC 1, Continuing Professional Development: conferences, workshops, etc.
SDC 2, Information Services: journals, technical publications, Internet services.
SDC 3, Advice and Expert Opinion: consulting, expert advice, international databases.
SDC 4, Food Science and Technology Development: new technologies application, regulatory technical standards, scientific needs.
SDC 5, Development of Professionalism: international standards on professional skills, relation to other unions, position papers, status reports, strategy development.
SDC 6, Marketing and Support Services: promote collaboration/interaction between researchers in different (IUFoST) countries.
For those interested in taking part in these IUFoST activities, fuller details of the tasks of the SDCs can be obtained from Judith Meech, Secretary-General and Treasurer, International Union of Food Science and Technology, 522 Maple Ave., Oakville, Ontario L6J 2J4, Canada (phone +1 905 815 1926, fax + 1 905 815 1574, e-mail [email protected]).
IFT in IUFoST
No, “in” is not a mistake for “and.” Among the relatively small circle of IFTers concerned with IUFoST matters up to the present, there has been a tendency to think in terms of “us” and “them.” In reality, IFT is part of IUFoST as the AB representing the U.S. and is thereby a constituent part of “them.”
The question is whether the U.S., as the heaviest, most powerful constituent part, can find a way to “pull its weight” in and for IUFoST. However, as well as being a constituent of IUFoST, past discussions have led to an additional IFT role whereby it has also become a partner of IUFoST, initially in an exciting IUFoST/IFT project for a joint on-line electronic magazine called The World of Food Science, available via the Internet at www.worldfoodscience.org, and an open door for possible future joint projects, each on a mutually agreed-on ad hoc basis.
It was always the case that what IUFoST really needed more than anything else was far more volunteers, but (apart from the World Congresses for which the host ABs’ members did most of the work “on the ground”) in the former IUFoST structure there was not really the machinery to utilize the services of volunteers. In nautical terms, IUFoST consisted mainly of part-time volunteer admirals, with very few sailors, and very few ships in which to put them. The new IUFoST structure has created the ships, but we should expect the U.S. to “pull its weight” by providing a good number of working crew. Just to be clear, those volunteering will be doing so entirely as individuals, not as representatives of their ABs. By the same token, all officers of IUFoST are members of their respective ABs but are officers in their individual capacities, not as representing their ABs. Nevertheless, if volunteers are to be forthcoming, it will require the help of the ABs, including IFT, in encouraging their members to volunteer for IUFoST. The “ships” in the analogy are the IUFoST Service Delivery Centers referred to above. Offers to volunteer for this worthy global purpose should be sent to Judith Meech at the address above.
As well as volunteers, IUFoST also needs money resources. In particular, it needs to be able to afford more than the present staff of one extremely hardworking person. Donations to IUFoST (sent to the same address) would therefore also be very welcome.
It is by helping to enhance the strength and activities of IUFoST in the ways indicated that IFT will be able to fulfill most effectively its purpose and responsibilities in the global arena, as well as one of the Goals of the IFT Strategic Plan, “IFT will be acknowledged and respected as a supporter of organizations with common interests.”
by J. RALPH BLANCHFIELD, MBE
The author, a Professional Member and Fellow of IFT, Past President of the Institute of Food Science & Technology, Immediate Past Chair of the IFT British Section, Vice President of the European Food Law Association of the U.K., Foundation Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science & Technology, member of the IUFoST Constitution Committee, and leader of IUFoST Delivery Center 3, is Consultant, 17 Arabia Close, Chingford, London E4 7DU, U.K.
Edited by Neil H. Mermelstein,
Fennema, O.R. 1995. Guest editorial. IUFoST—An important organization with lofty goals and limited means. Food Technol. 49(12): 12-13.