The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has reaccredited the undergraduate curriculum of Virginia Tech's Department of Food Science and Technology, reaffirming the department's place as a leader in contributing to food quality, safety, marketability, and availability.

“We are the only food science program in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of the premier food science programs worldwide,” said Joe Marcy, professor and head of the Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

A charter member of the IFT accreditation process, the Virginia Tech Department of Food Science and Technology submits information about faculty members, facilities, courses, research and internship opportunities, and postgraduation outcomes every five years to remain accredited. Although the IFT only asks for information about the undergraduate curriculum, the department’s status with the food science professional association opens up scholarship opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students.

“In 2008, 100 percent of our students either had a job or were in graduate school within six months after graduation,” Marcy said. “Although we are not one of the largest food science programs in the county, we were ranked sixth in the county for placing graduates in graduate or professional school after they complete their undergraduate studies here.”

The accreditation process also allows students to assess their education and their experiences at Virginia Tech. The IFT takes into account satisfaction rates on exit surveys, teacher evaluations, and teaching awards when making the decision about whether or not to reaccredit a food science program. According to Marcy, IFT requires a commitment to continued improvement of the undergraduate curriculum as the most important factor for reaccreditation. Although Marcy is an IFT Fellow and sits on the accreditation committee, he did not take part in the decision to reaffirm Virginia Tech’s standing with the leading food science professional organization.

Established in 1968, the Department of Food Science and Technology applies scientific principles to create and maintain a wholesome food supply and offers undergraduate and graduate courses to prepare students for science, technology, and veterinary careers. The department has numerous facilities, including a food analysis laboratory, microbiology laboratories, a packaging and processing pilot plant, a winery and enology research laboratory, a sensory evaluation laboratory, a dairy/beverage processing pilot plant and analytical support laboratory, and a muscle foods processing room and meat chemistry laboratory.

It also conducts research on a variety of food science topics ranging from food packaging and labeling, to antimicrobials, to wine flavor and aroma.

The Institute of Food Technologists 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 members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT champions the use of sound science across the food value chain through knowledge sharing, education, and advocacy by encouraging the exchange of information, providing both formal and informal educational opportunities, and furthering the advancement of the profession.

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