BEDFORD PARK, Ill.—The Illinois Institute of Technology's (IIT) on April 11 officially opened its Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH), a private-public research consortium dedicated to making foods safer and more nutritious through the use of food science and collaborative research and finding practical solutions to real-world problems. The new institute includes nearly 50 FDA personnel, nearly 50 IIT faculty and students, and more than 50 food industry-related partner companies.
The new institute will create "centers" as separate, but interactive, lines of business comprising the IFSH organizational and administrative structure to streamline research activities and projects to better meet the needs of its members.
To coincide with opening of the new institute, IFSH and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) signed a 5-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop and enhance cooperative farm-to-fork research initiatives. IFSH and USDA-ARS will work closely together to create new, and support existing, cooperative research programs and knowledge exchanges within the broad scope of innovation in food safety, food processing science and human nutrition.
"IFSH's continued partnership with USDA-ARS underscores our organizations' mutual commitment to creating innovative research initiatives that will enhance food safety and nutrition for all consumers," said IFSH Vice President and Director Robert E. Brackett, Ph.D.
IFSH’s principal operating center, the National Center for Food Safety and Technology (NCFST), also entered into a 5-year MOU with Australia's national science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). Under the agreement, IFSH/NCFST and CSIRO will establish a collaborative framework in which the organizations will provide scientific and technological support to each other in research projects involving food safety, innovative processing technologies, nutrition and health substantiation.
"NCFST will serve as a cornerstone of IFSH, providing a strong, consistent and well-established foundation for the expanded IFSH operating framework. This restructuring strongly positions us to better assist the nation's food companies and regulators with practical, authoritative science-based knowledge, especially in light of new requirements arising from the recent passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act," Brackett said.
NCFST, the Center for Nutrition Research, Center for Processing Innovation, and the Center for Specialty Programs will now operate within the IFSH scientific organizational structure to support continued growth, while leveraging NCFST's leading status as the only center where scientists from an entire FDA division are co-located with university researchers to work side-by-side on food safety, nutrition and technology research projects.
IFSH also launched its new website that reflects the restructuring of NCFST as one of four principal food science research centers operating under the newly formed institute. The website offers a number of online resources, news and public information about the institute's latest activities, state-of-the-art research capabilities and facilities, and staff. Members-only information is accessible from a password-protected log-in window.