CHICAGO – September 5, 2023 – The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific organization committed to advancing the science of food and its application across the global food system, is proud to announce that Sean Leighton has officially assumed the role of Board President succeeding Christopher Downs, PhD. Leighton is the global vice president of food safety, quality and regulatory at Cargill.

A member of IFT since 1999 where he was a participant in the IFT Student Association (IFTSA) product development competition, Leighton has served in several volunteer roles as a presenter, panelist, podcast thought leader, as well as an advisory council member of IFT’s Global Food Traceability Center.

“Sean’s commitment to advancing the science of food has long been an inspiration to IFT, its members, and the science of food community in general. He brings a unique perspective to the role, not only as a global leader in industry, but also as a former student member. Sean has been an IFT champion for more than 20 years, and we are excited to see the impact he will now make as president of IFT,” said IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean.

With a career spanning more than 20 years in the food and beverage community, Leighton has intimate knowledge of the science and standards that make food safe and the strategies to ensure the quality of supply chains that feed the world. Before joining Cargill in 2017, Leighton served as vice president of quality assurance, people safety and environmental sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company where he spent 12 years in roles of increasing responsibility. Prior to that, he worked at Land O’Lakes Incorporated.

In addition to IFT, Leighton sits on numerous advisory boards, including The Center for Food Safety (University of Georgia), The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), Partnerships for Food Safety Education, and the Food Fraud Think Tank (Michigan State University). He holds a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a master’s degree in food science from the University of Minnesota, and an MBA from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I am incredibly humbled and excited to step into the role of IFT president,” Leighton said. “The IFT community means so much to me because of the important and impressive role it plays in bringing together leaders across industries, governments, and academia to help ensure our global food system is safe, nutritious, and sustainable. I am looking forward to the year ahead and having this opportunity to serve IFT and the science of food community.”

To access the expert advice and resources, community, and innovation inspiration needed to advance a career in the science of food as well as the future of food, go to www.ift.org/membership.

About Institute of Food Technologists

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a global organization of approximately 12,000 individual members from more than 100 countries committed to advancing the science of food. Since 1939, IFT has brought together the brightest minds in food science, technology and related professions from academia, government, and industry to solve the world’s greatest food challenges. IFT works to ensure that its members have the resources they need to learn, grow, and advance the science of food as the population and the world evolve. IFT believes that science is essential to ensuring a global food supply that is sustainable, safe, nutritious, and accessible to all. For more information, please visit ift.org.

Media Contact

Dennis Van Milligen
Senior Manager, Public and Media Relations
Institute of Food Technologists
630-853-3022
[email protected]

More IFT Press Releases

Hevolution Foundation’s Mehmood A. Khan Honored with IFT Achievement Award in Public Health

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is pleased to announce that Mehmood A. Khan, MD, Chief Executive Officer at Hevolution Foundation, has been awarded IFT’s Public Health Award in honor of Babcock-Hart & Gilbert A. Leveille, which honors an individual who has provided scientific and technological contributions to improve public health through better nutrition and/or a more nutritious food supply.

University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Matthew Moore Honored with IFT’s Outstanding Young Scientist Award

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is pleased to announce that Matthew Moore, PhD, Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been awarded IFT’s Outstanding Young Scientist Award in honor of Samuel Cate Prescott, which honors an individual who has provided significant, early-career research contributions that advance the science of food.

Cornell University’s Carmen I. Moraru Honored with IFT’s Collaborative Research Grant to Help Improve Food Quality

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is pleased to announce that Carmen I. Moraru, PhD, Professor at Cornell University, has been awarded IFT’s Collaborative Research Grant in honor of Marcel Loncin, which provides research funding for a scientist or engineer conducting basic chemistry/physics/engineering research applied to food processing and improvement of food quality.

IFT Releases New Compensation and Career Path Report Highlighting the Latest Trends in Food Science Careers

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has released its 2024 Compensation and Career Path Report examining career trends in the science of food including compensation, job satisfaction, and workplace challenges.

University of Leeds Professor Anwesha Sarkar Honored with IFT’s Research & Development Award

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is pleased to announce that Anwesha Sarkar, PhD, Professor of Colloids and Surfaces at University of Leeds, has been awarded IFT’s Research & Development Award, which honors individual or team accomplishments in research and development.

Latest News

From the Expo Floor Day Three

Photo highlights of the Startup Pavilion on the IFT FIRST Expo floor.

Scentian Bio Wins IFT FIRST Pitch Competition

Scentian Bio, a technology company that combines insect biology with nanotechnology in sensor devices, took the top spot and a prize of $10,000 at The Pitch competition during IFT FIRST.

Advancing Healthy Equity and Nutrition Security

Panelists at an IFT FIRST featured session on Tuesday, July 16, shared how collaboration among governments, businesses, and researchers can leverage food science to promote equitable and sustainable nutrition solutions.

Mood Support Beverages Drive Innovation, Sales

SPINS reveals the market for functional beverages—especially those formulated for mood support—is large and growing, according to data the company shared at its IFT FIRST booth.

FDA Deputy Commissioner Jim Jones Addresses Food Safety, Innovation at IFT FIRST

In an energetic IFT FIRST keynote address on Tuesday morning, Jim Jones, deputy commissioner of Human Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), highlighted the agency's commitment to integrating innovation and technology into federal food safety regulation and policy.

Latest IFT Podcasts

EP 39: Career Insights from a Recruiter, Coffee Origin Myths, The Future of Food Technology

Learn from the brightest minds in food science in the July episodes of the Omnivore podcast.

EP 38: Food as a Healing Agent for Change, Food As Medicine, IFT FIRST Preview

Learn from the brightest minds in food science and technology in the June 2024 episodes of the Omnivore podcast.

EP 37: The Future of Product Innovation, Kelp in the Culinary Landscape, The Wonderful World of Fermentation

Learn from the brightest minds in food science and technology in the June 2024 episodes of the Omnivore podcast.

EP 36: Exploring ‘Nutrition’s Dark Matter,’ EPR Packaging Hits the U.S., Naandi Foundation on GFSC

The May episodes of Omnivore feature not-to-be-missed expert commentary on the latest food system innovations, challenges, and cutting-edge science.

EP 35: Global Food System Challenge, Business Skills in Food Science Curricula, Feeding the Food Science Talent Pipeline

The May episodes of Omnivore feature not-to-be-missed expert commentary on the latest food system innovations, challenges, and cutting-edge science.