Mr Ch’ng Guan Choo
Founding member of MIFT

MIFT: In the beginning…. Memoirs from Mr Ch’ng

Malaysia Institute of Food Technology or in brief MIFT was ‘initiated’ when a group of Food Scientists and Technologists in Malaysia came together way back in October 1972 at the Former Faculty of Agriculture in University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur (which subsequently merged with College of Agriculture Malaya to form Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, UPM (in around 1974) and the name was later changed to Universiti Putra Malaysia). The focus of this gathering was to discuss the setting up of a Professional Food Scientists/Technologists Body with the common interest in the Food Discipline.

The aim is to have a similar Professional Food Organization for Malaysia, as per the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST), or Institute of Food Technologists (IFT, USA) Or Institute of Food Technologists (IFST, UK) or Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, (AIFST, AUSTRALIA) etc. The original “founding members” who volunteered for the initial discussion to set up this organization came from various sectors, The Government Department, Academia, Food industries, and individuals with Food Specialization.

In 1972, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Malaya intended to commence an option in the final year of the Agriculture Science Degree, a Food Science/Technology specialized option course for its Final Year students. Hence, this opportunity was taken to embark on this Professional Body (which will be eventually called MIFT) as a kick start to provide feedback on the requirements of these future graduates for the Food Industries, Government departments, etc.

(Note: In 1976, UPM started a Dept of Food Science and Technology which eventually begin their first batch of student intake in 1976 for a Degree course in Bachelor of Food Science and Technology with the assistance from various overseas universities, namely  University of Nottingham, UK, University of New South Wales, Australia and Massey University, New Zealand.) During this time, University of Science Malaysia in Penang also started the Degree course in Applied Science/Technology with Food Specialty concurrently. Hence, it appeared to be a right timing to establish a Food Professional Body for the common goal for all the academic institutes.

The objective during that time was to have a Professional Body to provide a “platform” that links, The Government, Academia and Food Industries. This platform was to provide an avenue for sharing and discussions on common food interest not excluding improvements and progress in matters related to the Food Technology. This platform covers various aspects of the food industry be it regulations, trends, technology and even meeting specific specialization required in training for future graduates.

As for the name, MIFT, there was a discussion whether to call this body Malaysia Institute of Food Technology, MIFT or Malaysia Institute of Food Science and Technology, MIFST. The founders then decided to use MIFT instead as majority felt that Technology will include and imply the Sciences, hence there was no need to ‘repeat’   Science and Technology. This was in line with the food institute in United States of America who calls themselves Institute of Food Technology.

The initial committee was formed to draft the regulations and subsequently many meetings were held before MIFT was finally registered in 1974.

Among the founding members who comes to mind are:

Late Dr Kassim Ismail (Director for Food Research at Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, MARDI)

Dr Lim Chin Nam (Lecturer at University of Science Malaysia)

Mr Joseph Moolayilil (Uni Levers (Malaysia) Holding Sdn Bhd)

Mrs Loh ( Nee Mdm Yeo Chee Kar) (Yeo Hiap Seng (M) Sdn Bhd)

Mr Robert Teoh (Lecturer at MARA Institute)

Mr Lim Toh Hoy (Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, MARDI) ….

It was about 50 years ago and all records was lost/destroyed in an unfortunate break-in to the MIFT office, many years ago. I may have forgotten many names especially from Institute for Medical Research, IMR, Nestle and so on but I recall MIFT had a good representation from all sectors from the Government, Academia and Food industries.

MIFT started from scratch in 1974 with zero in the bank account but with membership subscription, later through seminars, conferences, workshop and other events, we managed to build up the Organization financial strength. Among the earliest major conference that gave MIFT a boost was a 1982 joint Australia/Singapore/Malaysia Food Conference held in Singapore. From that conference the ASEAN Food Conference, AFC idea was developed and this was carried out once every two years till today.

MIFT was then guided by various individuals over the years and with the hard work carried out, MIFT managed to have their own Building in 2003. There are many people who have contributed to the success of where we are today, unfortunately some has passed away. I would like to wish the new committee “All the Best”! Do promote and keep our ‘MIFT flag’ flying.