Margaret A. Lawson

Volunteer members from around the globe and IFT staff are combining efforts to promote global standards of excellence in the food science and technology profession and to attract a new generation of bright, young professionals to careers in food science and technology. What have we done as a professional scientific society to drive sound science leadership? Great things.

• Communicating. Sound science is at the core of every IFT communication activity. Our members and staff ensure that sound science is integrated into all dialogue, including that among policymakers.

IFT is a valued, indispensable resource and a unified voice on food-related issues deliberated in regional, national, and international forums. IFT members and staff provide oral and/or written testimony for Congressional hearings, comments on scientific aspects of proposed federal rule-makings, and input to federal and international advisory bodies.

For example, IFT commissions scientific panels to issue Expert Reports on various subjects. The most recent report, “Functional Foods: Opportunities and Challenges,” reviewed the state of the science on functional foods and the regulatory environment for their development and marketing. It joins two previous Expert Reports—“Biotechnology and Foods” and “Emerging Microbiological Food Safety Issues: Implications for Control in the 21st Century.”

IFT relies on our Food Science Communicators to deliver the highlights of these expert reports to the news media, and ultimately the general public, increasing the visibility and recognition of IFT as a valuable scientific resource. T he Communicators are a network of some 70 scientists having expertise in more than 100 areas of food science and technology. Provided with media relations training and staff support, they are well equipped to deliver the scientific perspective on food issues.

Scientific Status Summaries are also a highly regarded vehicle for communicating sound science on food-related issues. The most recent Status Summaries include “Irradiation and Food Safety” and “Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies.”

Collaborating. IFT actively participates in numerous coalitions and alliances with similar organizations around the world to promote a safe and nutritious food supply. One noteworthy collaboration is our involvement with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, whose texts have impact on international food safety and IFT’s industrial members around the world. IFT participates (as a non-governmental agency) at the working group, committee, task force, and Commission levels of Codex.

IFT also coordinates the Congressional Support for Science Awards, which honor two members of Congress each year, to increase the role of science in policy development.

• Connecting. IFT connects with many associations to address the safety and security of the nation’s food supply. By identifying service projects related to food science or food technology that can be supported by extramural funds, IFT operates under contract to fulfill the service defined by the granting agency. We typically accomplish this by assembling panels of experts to evaluate and assess issues in food safety, processing, and nutrition.

Currently, IFT is under contract to the Food and Drug Administration for task orders on “Food Security T raining: Course Development and Implementation,” “Assessing the Public Health Risks of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and Chronic Wasting Disease Associated with FDA-Regulated Foods and Other Products,” and “Developing a CARVER+Shock (Food Processing Vulnerability Assessment) Software Tool and Distributing the Tool to the Food Industry.” IFT is also nearing completion of an FDA-funded project to develop a “Risk Ranking Framework to Evaluate Potential High Threat Microorganisms, Toxins, and Chemicals in Food.”

IFT’s science leadership is exemplified through our Research Summits, which facilitate in-depth exchange among world-renowned scientists conducting basic and applied research to identify crucial areas for further investigation. Research Summits have addressed food defense, obesity, microbial inactivation kinetics, and physiology of bacterial spores and other dormant microbes, and an upcoming Summit will address food packaging.

IFT also hosts Food Safety and Quality Conferences that bring together scientists, regulators, food industry professionals, and communicators from around the globe to exchange insight on and experiences with issues of international impact. T his year’s conference will include a session on “Food Safety in Latin America: Its Impact in Global Trade.” Also in 2005, we hosted the First Annual Food Protection and Defense Research Conference.

For more information on any of these critical sound science leadership initiatives, visit and click on “Research, Reports, & Policy.”

by Margaret A. Lawson,
IFT President, 2005–06
Technical Services Manager, T. Hasegawa USA, Cerritos, Calif.
[email protected]