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Discover the Role of the Food Scientist

Photo: Courtesy of Max Delsid

The role food scientists play in our lives is often unknown to the masses, despite the fact that they have a large influence on what we eat.

What exactly is food science, and what do food scientists do?

The role of food scientists

First, think about the various items you would normally throw into your grocery cart: milk, bread, canned goods, cereal, chips, cookies, soda, juice, cheese, etc.

Anything edible you throw into your grocery cart has been reviewed by food scientists who create, manufacture and market food items for you to take home and enjoy.

Fast food chain restaurants are also influenced by food scientists who ensure that the menu items are delicious, safe and ready to eat when you order.

At a trip to a convenience store, if you buy an energy drink, a donut or an ice-cream bar from the freezer, know that a team of food scientists have worked to create, produce and sell these products for your convenience – whenever and wherever you want it.

Facets of food science

Food science is the applied science devoted to the study of food. The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as “the discipline in which the engineering, biological and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing and the improvement of foods for the consuming public.”

Activities of food scientists include the development of new food products, design of processes to produce these foods, choice of packaging materials, shelf-life studies, sensory evaluation of products using survey panels or potential consumers and microbiological and chemical testing. Food science brings together multiple scientific disciplines. It incorporates concepts from fields such as microbiology, chemical engineering and biochemistry.

Many well-known universities have world-class food science academic programs. These schools are the “feeder schools” for Fortune 500 food companies that need to hire food scientists on a regular basis to enable their business to grow, succeed and excel on a global level.

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