As food science becomes more complex and its applications to the handling, storage, processing, packaging, and distribution of foods become more involved, the importance and benefits of strategic alliances among food-related organizations become more attractive.
Strategic alliances are a logical approach to ensuring that all organizations are able to use resources in an efficient and effective manner, while meeting the expectations of their respective memberships. They provide IFT with opportunities to influence the direction of food-related research, messages, and regulatory policies at the local, state, federal, and global levels.
During planning for 2006–07, the Executive Committee confirmed support for IFT involvement in alliances by setting the following goal: Strengthen strategic alliances among organizations with interests in food and the role of food science in the food delivery system.
Several IFT committees and volunteer workgroups are contributing to the advancement of this goal. IFT Divisions and Regional Sections are assisting in building relationships by exploring the types of organizations and relationships needed in the future.
The following are examples of IFT’s strategic alliances:
• ASN/IFIC. IFT has been instrumental in the creation of a joint task force composed of representatives of the American Society for Nutrition and the International Food Information Council. The purpose is to bridge gaps of knowledge and information among the nutrition, food, and health sciences. Through this collaboration, we hope to influence messages, policies, and research related to food, nutrition, and health.
• PFSE. IFT is a member of the Partnership for Food Safety Education, a not-for-profit organization that unites industry trade associations, professional societies related to food, nutrition, and health, consumer groups, and the federal government in an effort to educate consumers about safe food handling. We continue to explore other opportunities for alliances needed to more effectively address issues associated with the regulation of food safety.
• DMEA/USDA/NFSI. Nanotechnology has evolved as a new area of research applications, and IFT has provided leadership in an international effort to discuss applications of the outcomes from nanoscale science in product and process development. This alliance includes representatives from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, and Japan’s National Food Research Institute.
Through this alliance, IFT hopes to promote international cooperation and exchange of nanoscale science research outcomes and evaluate the potential applications to food. The alliance will present the 2nd International Food Nanotechnology Conference at 2007 IFT Annual Meeting & Food ExpoSM in Chicago, July 28–August 1.
• AFDO. IFT has opened a dialog with the Association of Food and Drug Officials, and a very successful educational program was conducted at the 2006 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Orlando.
We believe that there will be future opportunities to collaborate with AFDO to ensure that regulations at the state and local levels are based on the best available science.
• ALACCTA. Collaboration between IFT and the Latin American and Caribbean Association of Food Science and Technology was initiated with IFT’s participation in ALACCTA’s XIV Latin American Food Science and Technology Seminar in October 2006. IFT’s International Division and ALACCTA will present two symposia at the 2007 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo. "Food Safety Challenges and Foodborne Disease Surveillance" and "Food Safety Implementation: Case Studies" will focus on the challenges and impact of food safety assurance in Latin America and the Caribbean. IFT will also participate in ALACCTA’s II Caribbean Food Safety Congress in fall 2007.
• CIFST. An alliance with the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology has evolved over the past four years. IFT and CIFST have cosponsored three food summits in China to develop relationships between food science professionals from the United States and China and to encourage collaboration among the scientists. The summits also encourage an exchange of scientific information and a better understanding of trends in the food industry. IFT and CIFST are planning the fourth food summit, to be held in Huangzhou, China, in November 2007.
Strategic alliances assist our members by providing access to an array of technical information and an impact on complex messages and policy issues related to food, while ensuring that the missions and goals of the organizations are met in an efficient and effective manner. We can anticipate that IFT involvement in strategic alliances will increase in the future.
by Dennis R. Heldman,
IFT President, 2006–07
President, Heldman Associates, Weston, Fla.