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How to Become a Food Scientist

Updated on December 17, 2012

Food science: and those who practice it

Stated simply, food science is an "applied science" in which women and men engage in the study of foods. Food scientists are concerned with every aspect of the nature of foods, for example, "Why do foods rot, or spoil?" They study food processing in order to preserve foods, while at the same time, avoiding factors like excessive heating, or other adverse factors that decrease the value (like the taste and nutritional contents) of the food.

You will find food scientists working in all sectors of the the food industry, developing new food products, and working on better methods for producing foods, and packaging foods. And interest point (I learned while studying at Michigan State University (The College of Human Medicine), is, packaging is a major science and industry "in and of its self"). The packaging school at Michigan State University, when I was studying medicine there, had its very own building, a massive operation. Students reported to this school from all over the globe to learn to be packaging professionals.

Food scientists study fundamental phenomena and perform microbiological and chemical research, in many instances, depending on their chose fields of interest in the food science industry.

It is my hope that by now in the reading of my discourse on food science, a reader will sense that there is an "interdisciplinary" approach that manifests itself in the broad approach to food science. In other words, many different fields of study, involving professionals from a broad range of highly trained areas of study such as microbiology, nutrition, nursing, medicine, chemical engineering and general chemistry, biochemistry, physics, chiropractic, and agriculture, is only a partial list of the fields of study that interact within the food science industry.

In order to help those who are actively considering careers in food science and need a few details on disciplines that they can train to work in, the following section is provided to you:

1. Chemistry is very important in the food science industry and can be fun to do is one like chemistry. You have got to like it. Foods are made up of elements, compounds and contain molecules. Chemical reactions are the processes that are of interest to chemists and they love their work.

2. Industrial processes that are necessary for the manufacture of foods are overseen by professionals trained in "food engineering."

3. Those professional who work to invent new food products work in a field called "product development.

4. I mentioned "physics," in passing, above and it may sound strange that a person trained and interesting in the physics of foods can find a good paying job in the food industry. Well, he or she can find work because physical phenomena, such as viscosity, creaminess, and texture, is very important to how food tastes, and how food looks, and how it feels within the context of ones mouth.

5. and 6. I have decided to explain two concepts that are numbered 5 and 6 together, intentionally, so that you will remember that, although there are different concepts, they actually interact, or manifest themselves, together. "Food safety has to do with the causes of illnesses, the prevention of illness, and the identification of "food borne illnesses. For lack of better words, "bad foods," that is contamination food, or foods infected with micro-organisms can make people (and other animals) sick, and can even kill.

The second concept, or occupation that ties into "food safety," we can call "food microbiology," allows one to understand the relationship between foods and micro-organisms. I have tried to make a case that "food safety" and "food microbiology" sort of goes hand in hand.

Actually, there is an occupation called "food sanitation inspection," and those who practice this profession inspects food service places where people purchase foods and eat, public places, to help decrease the incidence of "food borne illnesses.

7. Once again, I would like to mention "food packaging," and a career, because it is an interesting, fun, and good paying occupation, and it is often overlook by young women and men who would be happy working in this line of work.

In summary:

This discourse has not exhausted the possibilities that one can find in the broad field of food science. The need for competently educated and trained individuals is great. If you love food, that is like eating food, working with food and talking about food, then consider a career in food science. It will make you happy. Trust me.

Regards, and good luck,

Dr. Haddox


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