This summer I took part in a session on communication of food science at the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) in Montreal. We joined food scientists from China, Ireland, Malaysia, and South Africa to share case studies involving the popular press. Food safety and quality issues are global concerns, and IFT is committed to sharing information with food scientists and members of the media around the world to promote science-based discussion of food topics.
At IFT, we’ve been celebrating our 75th anniversary this year by telling the world about the importance of food science and technology and the global food challenges we face through our FutureFood 2050 initiative. It’s helping us expand our publishing mission to reach a broader audience. Our website, FutureFood2050.com, continues to feature stories about food issues and promising solutions to feeding the world’s growing population. Each month we are rolling out a new series of articles touching on innovators and thought leaders who are sharing their ideas on sustainability, food safety, nutrition, consumer trends, and more. Please feel free to share these articles through your communications channels and create a dialogue on how food science and technology can play an important role in feeding future generations.
Another key part of our FutureFood 2050 initiative is our documentary, Food Evolution, produced by Oscar-nominated film director Scott Hamilton Kennedy. You can hear directly from our film crew in a video posted on FutureFood2050.com about a recent location shoot in Northern California.
We continue to build momentum based on last year’s launch of the Global Food Traceability Center with the ultimate goal of providing resources and expertise to improve the speed and accuracy of food product tracing worldwide. The Center’s founding partners share a common desire to enhance the safety of the global food supply chain. Recently, the Center released a new tool that can help seafood organizations quickly calculate the return on investment for their traceability efforts. To learn more, visit GlobalFoodTraceability.org.
One of the many ways we are advancing the profession of food science and technology is through the Certified Food Scientist program, which is the only global certification for food scientists. Today there are almost 1,600 Certified Food Scientists in 55 countries. The CFS credential assesses applied scientific knowledge and skills of food scientists worldwide. The Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology and the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology have partnered with IFT to support the CFS program, and Canada now has more Certified Food Scientists than any other country outside the United States, followed by Australia and China. All 18 of the Fortune 500 food and beverage companies now employ Certified Food Scientists.
Feeding Tomorrow, IFT’s foundation, supports programs to attract and encourage the next generation of food scientists, such as the IFTSA Developing Solutions for Developing Countries product development competition, which promotes global awareness of issues including food availability, nutrition, and health. This year’s winning international team from Bogor Agricultural University in Indonesia created FLOYA, an instant porridge made with defatted soybean and sunflower meal, sorghum, and dried mango to combat malnutrition in Africa. The winning domestic team from California Polytechnic Institute created Amma Mamas, a sweet tortilla-like product made from soy flour, millet, milk, sweet potato, and cinnamon aimed at improving maternal nutrition in Chad, Africa.
More than 20% of attendees and exhibitors at IFT’s Annual Meeting and Food Expo in New Orleans this year were from outside the United States. To remain competitive in the global food marketplace, companies must attract the best minds to build a workforce of diverse, talented professionals. Food science offers a variety of career possibilities, but many promising students are not aware of the opportunities that exist within our field, or the impact that food science has on the global food system. That’s why Feeding Tomorrow, IFT’s foundation, is working to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and show students how they can make a difference by becoming food scientists.
Throughout the coming year, other international activities led by our divisions, sections, and student association will also be highlighted in Food Technology and on the IFT website. Next July, the third “class” of our Lead 360 program, geared to provide leadership training and global networking for young food science professionals nominated by their own national organizations, will meet in Chicago. IFT continues to support improved global discussions within the food science and technology community.
Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., CFS,
IFT President, 2014–2015
Professor, Univ. of Maine, Orono, Maine