IFT’s outreach consists of two main channels: one to its members and potential members, and the other to the rest of the world.
Reaching out to IFT members outside the United States is primarily the responsibility of IFTs International Division. However, IFT’s “brain trust” for overseeing the establishment and maintenance of relationships with other organizations, both within the U.S. and outside, is its Committee for Global Interests (CoGI). This year, CoGI is chaired by Michele Buchanan, whose dedication and commitment in this role is without question.
Our principal relationship with the rest of the world is our participation as the representative of the U.S. in the International Union of Food Science & Technology (IUFoST). I wrote about IUFoST in the September 2000 issue, and I recommend Ralph Blanchfields’ excellent article, “The Best-Kept Secret: IUFoST Revealed,” also in that issue, for more information.
Other international organizations in which IFT plays a role include Codex Alimentarius as a nongovernmental organization (NGO), the International Food Information Service (IFIS) as a part owner, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a resource for food science and technology information.
IFT also has many relationships with other organizations. and specific terms (Alliances, Allied Organizations, and Cooperating Societies) are selected to define and distinguish the special relationship which exists between the organizations. This may seem confusing, but there are sound reasons for these terms:
Alliances. Alliances are created with other U.S.-based bodies that share similar public policy positions with IFT. Most are one-to-one alliances. They include alliances with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Dietiteic Association, American Oil Chemists’ Society, American Society for Microbiology, American Society for Quality, AOAC International, Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology, Chinese-American Food Science Society, National Restaurant Association, Phi Tau Sigma, and Society of Toxicology.
In the future, alliances may exist between IFT and other scientific societies and associations, particularly as the difference between food, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural products diminishes. There are also alliances in which IFT is involved with multiple other bodies, such as the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP), the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance (FANSA), the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), and Research!America.
Allied Organizations. Until recently, IFT had a number of Affiliates, non-U.S.-based food science societies in a one-way relationship with IFT which regarded them as subsidiary bodies. In 1998, the IFT Council decided that this was not a satisfactory way to nurture relationships with the global world of food science and technology, and adopted the term Allied Organizations. This was not just a change in nomenclature, but a real change in concept and relationship.
Allied Organizations are national food science and technology societies based outside the U.S. Today, IFT has an equal and reciprocal two-way relationship with 22 organizations (they are listed in the IFT Membership Directory and on the IFT Web site at www.ift.org, under “About IFT and Memberships”). We anticipate that the number will increase next year. Some of these bodies were former Affiliates, but most, like IFT, are the national bodies representing their countries in IUFoST (the fact of a direct relationship between IFT and each of these bodies doesnot conflict with their respective roles in IUFoST, but is complementary to their roles in IUFoST).
The Allied Organizations vary greatly in size, but even the largest are not comparable in size or resources to IFT. Some, like IFT, are professional societies with professional classes of membership, and criteria that must be fulfilled for election to those classes. However, some are food science “learned” societies with no professional grades or purposes, and which anybody interested in the food area can join. Allied Organization status can be initiated at the request of either party, and this is usually recommended by CoGI.
Cooperating Societies. The concept of Cooperating Societies grew out of informal suggestions by the UK-based Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) which led to a formal approach to IFT for close cooperation between the two associations. These discussions led eventually to an agreement and a joint announcement by both Institutes in 1995. The agreement was easy; the descriptor took a little longer. The IFT/IFST agreement remains the only example of a Cooperating Societies relationship to date. Perhaps the future will bring more such relationships. Let’s hope so. The door is always open.
by MARY K. SCHMIDL
IFT President, 2000–01