Career as Food Scientist
Food scientists help to create safer, more nutritious and lower-priced food. Food scientists use their knowledge of chemistry, physics, engineering, microbiology and biotechnology to find better ways of making and storing food without destroying its nutritional value.
As part of their work, food scientists will analyse food to calculate its nutritional value (such as the information on fat, vitamins, and protein that is found on food packaging). Food scientists are also involved in checking the quality and hygiene of food to make sure that it's safe to eat, and may find work inspecting food factories and retail outlets for hygiene and quality.
A lot of a food scientist's work involves research. Food scientists search for less harmful additives to preserve food, and also look for ways to improve the flavor, texture and color of food. They work to enhance ways of preparing food (such as baking and frying), and also help to create new methods of packing and storing food, so that it will last longer. Some food scientists tackle issues such as global hunger, and try to determine new ways of growing food easily in harsh conditions. Food technologists then use the information uncovered by the research of food scientists, and apply this in order to develop new food products.
In order to do their work well, food scientists need to have good research and observation skills. They are required to pay attention to detail, and also have a good knowledge of a wide variety of fields such as chemistry, toxicology (study of poisons), microbiology, nutrition and enzymes. Food scientists and technologists often work in a laboratory type environment, using various general and specialised equipment. Some of the benefits of this career include the fact that food scientists and technologists have the opportunity to improve the food that we eat everyday. Problem solving and facing challenges is also interesting, as is the variety of work. Contributing to solving issues such as world hunger can also be an advantage of this career. Some of the difficulties include travel to factories (when involved in quality control and inspection), and frustration when a promising technique does not work out as expected.
A food scientist / technologist should:
enjoy working with biological material, especially food
pay attention to detail
have good observation skills
enjoy experimentation and discovering new facts
Job opportunities for food scientists and technologists are average, and common employers include food manufacturing and processing factories, government departments and food marketing boards. Food scientists can also be self-employed as consultants, or can use their experience to start up their own food manufacturing companies.
A BSc degree or diploma in food science is needed in order to work in this field.
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