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Reinforcing Continuing Education Through CFS Certification

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Jim Smith, PhD, CFS

Every day the global food enterprise becomes more and more complex. The worldwide demand for food is increasing, and supply chains are more global and interconnected than ever. As a result, the need to easily identify knowledgeable food professionals that meet scientific and workforce needs along the value chain is imperative to delivering safe, quality food to consumers. Continuing education and staying on top of the latest advancements in food science through certification will be an increasingly crucial part to help achieve this.

I am honored to be one of the more than 1,500 Certified Food Scientists (CFS) from around the world and want to share my perspective on why the program is important to me. The CFS credential is a global certification program created by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) that evaluates the applied scientific knowledge and skills of food scientists worldwide through a third-party assessment. Certified Food Scientists represent 866 organizations from 54 countries around the world. These range from ingredient and consumer package goods companies, universities, consultancies, government agencies, and many more. The program is officially endorsed by the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) and the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST). More global partnerships will be formed as the program continues to grow worldwide.

It Is also my privilege to represent CIFST as a commissioner on the International Food Science Certification Commission, the governing board for this certification, and would like to personally congratulate my colleagues in Canada who have already received the CFS. Canada currently ranks second in terms of countries with the most Certified Food Scientists, and these credential holders come from impressive backgrounds in industry, academia, and government. No matter where you are from, CFS can create a common language for the profession.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, I decided to continue my studies by earning a Masters’ in Food Science from the University of Manitoba and PhD in Food Science from the University of Nottingham in England. After my studies at these world-renowned food science programs, I quickly realized that my learning was not complete, but had only just begun. As food scientists, our world is constantly changing, and we are in a never-ending quest to stay current on the latest food technology developments.

The CFS exam tests the real-world abilities and skills that are imperative for food scientists in their roles. Based on a statistically valid research study of more than 1,800 global food professionals, it was created to help current and potential employers around the world know the level of expertise and applied knowledge that a food scientist has attained. Becoming a Certified Food Scientist also indicates a commitment to lifelong learning, as there are continuing education requirements that are necessary to maintaining the credential. It also pays off. An extensive global salary survey conducted by IFT found that Certified Food Scientists overall earned an average of 24% more than their peers who had not yet earned the credential. Regardless of your career stage, it’s an advantage that sets those who are certified apart from others seeking promotion or employment.

To achieve the credential, food professionals must be current on the latest food science developments, and they must have work experience and academic credentials demonstrating their dedication to the profession and to advancing the science of food. Finally, they must pass an exam, which is offered at more than 5,000 testing centers worldwide, including many in Canada.

I recommend you go to www.ift.org/certification to learn more about the CFS and see the list of your colleagues who are already certified. You can even download the Candidate Handbook, which has detailed information on the exam content outline, testing dates, and recommended preparation resources, including the CFS Prep Course, which is offered in Canada through NSF-GFTC.

I strongly encourage you to join me in including the CFS in both your personal and organizational professional development plans.

Jim Smith, PhD, MBA, FIFST, FCIFST, CSci, CFS
Executive Director, BioFoodTech
IFSCC Commissioner
CIFST Past President

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