As I leave the office of President of the Institute of Food Technologists this month, I want to reflect on our current accomplishments and our strategic positioning for the future of IFT:
• Task Forces. To maintain our promising momentum, create a flexible and nimble environment for growth, and assure that IFT remains a worldwide leader in providing sound science, IFT has reassessed its governance structure and has introduced four new task forces—the Task Force on Strategic Development, the Task Force on Governance, the Task Force on Board Leadership and Development, and the Task Force on the Annual Meeting Scientific Program. It is reasonable to expect that there will be additional Task Forces organized to address other member issues.
• Online Elections. To streamline our elections, all Sections and Divisions were offered the opportunity to use IFT’s new online election tool, and 20 Divisions, 11 Sections, and the IFT Student Association opted to use it. We also used it to raise awareness of the national leadership election, enhance communication, reach out to our members worldwide, encourage all IFT members to vote, and cut our costs.
• Expert Report. IFT released in March the results of the IFT Expert Report on Functional Foods with a press conference in Washington, D.C., and a simultaneous Webcast on www.ift.org. It was an opportunity for three report authors, including Expert Panel Chair Fergus Clydesdale, to answer questions from the scientific community and news media. The report highlighted the promising potential of functional foods; procedures for establishing safety and efficacy; impediments to the development of functional foods, including limitations in the current regulatory framework; scientific advances; research needs; and policy recommendations.
• Leadership Conference. In early May, I joined more than 50 IFT Section and Division leaders in Washington, D.C., for a successful IFT National Leadership Conference. Highlights included the IFT Congressional Support for Science Award reception on Capitol Hill, networking with IFT Foundation Board members, and presentations by IFT staff.
• Global Presence. To ensure that sound science is behind the growth, formulating, processing, packaging, and worldwide delivery of safe, nutritious, and enjoyable foods, IFT has focused on a more global presence. IFT co-organized the 2nd IFT/Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology Summit, “Cooperation and Opportunities Across Borders and Cultures,” last November. The summit was designed to advance new ideas for science and technology and strategies to further facilitate and encourage international trade and collaboration in all areas of the food industry. Discussions are underway for the third summit in 2006.
In addition, IFT and the IFT Foundation will coordinate new projects with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition Foundation (GAIN), which works to improve nutrition in developing countries through fortification of locally produced and consumed staple foods.
IFT continues to participate in and support global food science standards-setting by providing scientific and technical input to Codex Alimentarius. IFT also is exploring a symposium sponsorship with ALACCTA, our food science and technology association neighbors of Latin America and the Caribbean.
• Food Safety Partnerships. IFT recently joined leading industry, consumer, and professional organizations and government agencies to educate consumers about reducing their risk of foodborne illness. The Partnership for Food Safety Education is the official creator and steward of FightBAC!®, a national public education campaign that highlights the four basic safe food-handling behaviors: clean, separate, cook, and chill. The Partnership is also the steward of the BAC Down! campaign, a national food safety education initiative that asks consumers to use a thermometer to keep their home refrigerator at 40°F degrees or below.
• Discovery Education Partnership. IFT is responding to a looming future trend—a shortage of qualified students and employees with food and agricultural science degrees. Inspired by the vision of the Career Guidance Committee and with support from the IFT Foundation, IFT has formed an exciting and innovative new partnership with Discovery Education, a leader in digital video-based learning. Early next year, multimedia educational kits will be distributed to 18,000 public high schools nationwide—reaching more than 36,000 high school science department chairs and career guidance counselors around the United States.
It is extremely important to note that without the determination, dedication, and support of our members, IFT could not have maintained, over this past year, its noteworthy role as a leader in presenting sound science and in engaging the global community of food science and technology.
I am extremely proud to have been a part of all of the extraordinary accomplishments to date and those that are moving forward. It is quite an amazing and rewarding time for IFT, our members, and our profession.
by Herbert Stone,
IFT President, 2004–05
President, Tragon Corp., Redwood City, Calif.