If you are interested in the field of food science, you may have heard of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). Begun in 1939, IFT is an organization whose members are from over 95 different countries. IFT provides opportunities for those members to learn more about food science and to collaborate on ways to make sure that people have access to nutritious and safe food all around the world. To achieve those goals, they promote food science as a career, convene and carry out forums where those interested in food science can come together to learn and grow, and publish resources to increase knowledge and awareness of food science and technology.
Purpose and Vision of IFT
IFT sees its mission and vision in terms of advancing food science in order to help create “a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone.” The four action verbs they use to talk about their purpose and how they want to accomplish it are: develop, network, innovate, and advocate. Those actions are at the heart of what they want to do, which is to help people learn more about food science and how it can be applied to improve the lives of people around the world.
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The people who participate in the Institute of Food Technologists’ forums and events include those who work in the food industry as well as government workers and those involved in food science at an academic level.
Events and Resources of the IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists sponsors or otherwise fosters a number of events and educational opportunities for people who work in the food science field. One huge event they sponsor is their annual meeting and food expo, which includes over 1,000 exhibits and 100 different information sessions. They also offer regional supplier’s nights, conferences and courses in various locations, and online learning opportunities such as webinars. Some of their current courses include topics such as international food law, introduction to food science, maintaining quality and safety of fresh-cut produce, dairy 101, and a new nutrition facts panel which is offered in conjunction with the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association. On their website, they also make available some of the technical abstracts and session recordings from their old meetings.
When you visit their website, you’ll also discover a round-up of articles related to food science and policy and a career center where you can look for a new job in the industry, connect with a mentor who will help you as you pursue your career, and check out the IFT salary survey report. Many of these resources are available only to members. IFT also publishes books, newsletters, and magazines, including the monthly Food Technology Magazine.
The organization has different levels of membership including standard, professional, and student memberships. Joining a respected organization like the Institute of Food Technologists can be a good way to stay updated about trends in the food science industry, network with professionals around the globe, and gain access to excellent resources that can help you to move forward in the profession.