With regard to the correspondence about IFT Professional Membership in the Letters column on pages 82–83 of the December 2000 issue, I would like to clarify the intent of the Task Force on Professional Membership Criteria, of which I am Chair.

Membership in IFT is open to anyone active in any aspect of the food industry. Professional Membership is open to Institute members with appropriate academic qualifications and professional experience in food science and technology. The Task Force on Professional Membership Criteria will encourage qualified members to apply for Professional Membership status, but will not lower the standards for Professional Membership.

The Task Force intends to develop, in cooperation with Council members, the minimum requirements by education, training, or experience in food science or technology that are necessary to qualify a person with a degree in a non-food science area, but with documented significant contributions to the profession and, if applicable, to the Institute, for  Professional Membership status.

The Task Force is presently reviewing these requirements and guidelines for assessing applicants, and will be opening the discussion to Council members in January 2001. The Committee on Qualifications will eventually use these guidelines to evaluate applications for Professional Membership.

Admitting members without a degree in food science or related fields to Professional Membership status is not a new Institute policy. The Committee on Membership and Professional Affairs previously handled appeals from members who were denied Professional Membership status. Since this committee no longer exists, we have an opportunity to establish clear guidelines for the handling of these applications.

I feel that the Institute should provide more recognition for Professional Members (i.e., members who have appropriate academic qualifications and who have demonstrated their professionalism both by the experience they have gained in food science and technology and by further enhancement of their food science and technology knowledge). With proper Institute recognition of Professional Members, the suggestion that the Institute form an “Academy of Food Science” would cause more confusion than benefit. We already have a distinguished group of IFT Fellows who have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to food science and technology and the Institute. Adding another group of “certified” food scientists has no obvious benefit to the Institute of to members of the Institute.

—Robert J. Price, Chair, Task Force on Professional Membership Criteria, and Professor, University of California–Davis