The role of engineering in the food and drink industry
The food and drink industry isn’t what it used to be. It’s not just about the taste nowadays. It’s about the packaging, the safety of the product, its environmental implications, how many calories it contains, what it smells like, what it feels like, and so on and so forth.
As a food and drink engineer, your main concern will be to ensure a constant supply of food and drink that is safe, stable and of a high nutritional value. It’s a massively important role, particularly when poor quality food and drink is a recurring problem.
Essentially, food and drink engineers are the whizz kids who combine a detailed knowledge of nutrition with technical engineering prowess to develop top quality food and drink products and processes.
What do food and drink engineering employers look for?
Employers will be looking for candidates with a relevant science or engineering degree. If you want to focus on processing and producing the actual food products themselves, then a degree in chemical engineering, chemistry or microbiology wouldn’t go amiss.
Alternatively, if you want to get stuck into the packaging side of things, a degree in product design or mechanical engineering would be a great start.
What is a food and drink engineer in charge of?
There’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders as a food and drink engineer. You’ll be the person responsible for testing food and beverage products and making sure that they’re not toxic, unsafe for human consumption or detrimental to people’s health.
Your job will also revolve around creating top quality products. Consequently, you’ll constantly be monitoring, testing and refining production processes to make sure that the best possible tasty treats are produced for the public.
These roles are certainly not just a matter of baking cakes, giving them a cheeky taste and getting icing all over your face. You will be using the most advanced, technical methods to produce perfect foodstuffs, such as dehydration, concentration and thermal processing.
If you become a product designer you will focus on the creation of packaging. Your responsibilities will involve liaising with your client, taking their brief into account and coming up with new ways of packaging food.
You’ll need to take environmental issues into consideration when you’re doing this and use a certain amount of recyclable materials. It’s then a case of testing products, re-testing and modifying designs until everything’s perfect. It can be a slow process, but it’s such an important one.
You’ll have a lot on your plate (get it?!) but if you have a passion for science and food and engineering sounds like the ideal career for you, check out the occupational profile of a food technologist for more information! Otherwise, head on over to our jobs board to see what roles we have. It may seem like we’re trying to ‘egg’ you on, but seriously, it can be a ‘cracking’ line of work to get into!