John Coupland elected IFT board member

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- John Coupland, professor of food science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, recently was elected to the board of directors of the Institute of Food Technologists.

Also known as IFT, the organization exists to advance the science of food. Its long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply contributing to healthier people everywhere. Founded in 1939, IFT is a nonprofit scientific society with 20,000 individual members working in food science, food technology and related professions in industry, academia and government.

Coupland, who teaches food chemistry and conducts research on emulsion science and fat crystallization, is most active in the group's Food Chemistry Division and is a member of the Education, Engineering and Dairy divisions. He is a member of the Keystone Section of IFT.

A native of the United Kingdom, Coupland has lived in Pennsylvania for 14 years. He earned both a bachelor's degree and a doctorate in food science from Leeds University in the United Kingdom.

He hopes to contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT. "I am interested in enhancing communication about the importance of food science," he said. "However, IFT inevitably is drawn in to being a defender of the food industry rather than the more limited and appropriate goal of defending food science and food scientists."

Because of that, he noted, IFT's public outreach often is seen as a voice of the food industry. "Our efforts as a professional society would be more effective advocating for food science within the food industry and government, where political and business imperatives often lead to science being undervalued."

IFT can play a critical role in shaping the public face of food science, Coupland suggested. "The single most important issue facing food science as a profession is a lack of faith in our work from the public," he said. "The sense that 'industrial food' is the source of many of our problems as a society is prevalent.

"This is a dangerous belief, because the need to produce more food from fewer resources is already critical in much of the developing world and soon will become pressing for all of us," he explained. "Certainly science, especially food science, will play a role in meeting these challenges, but our skills and motives are met with suspicion."

As a member of the board of directors, Coupland vowed to push for IFT to be a stronger advocate for food science both within the food industry and to larger audiences.
 

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Last Updated March 26, 2012