What are food sciences?
Since the beginning of mankind, the production and distribution of food has been crucial to our survival. This isn’t an area of science that only concerns economic output and profits; if careers in this subsector aren’t functioning correctly then people’s lives are at risk. It’s that fundamental!
Food scientists get involved from seed to supermarket. All aspects of food production are researched and new solutions are developed to ensure that each and every tasty morsel can be produced more cost-effectively, efficiently and safely.
What do food sciences involve?
The research and development that goes into food is immense; whether it involves food safety, microbiology, preservation or engineering, food production is anything but straight forward.
Crops need to be researched and tested, factories need to be monitored and the food itself needs to be inspected before reaching the consumer. Whether you find yourself in a lab, at a factory or in a field, you will be focusing on food at all times.
Given that the food and drink industry employs up to 400,000 people and accounts for over 15% of the UK’s manufacturing output each year, the career opportunities are truly vast.
What options do I have for a food sciences career?
Food microbiology is a major focus of the food science arena. Food producers need to know how long food will last, what will affect it and what’s the best method of storage. Food microbiologists study the effects of different microorganisms within food. By understanding what happens, they can harness their power in various food-making processes, such as brewing, winemaking and baking.
Whether you are a laboratory manager, responsible for the running of the lab, or a food scientist (also referred to as a food technologist) that focuses on manufacturing processes and creating recipes, your overall aim is to ensure that the food produced meets all of the necessary standards.
Food technologists, in particular, focus on finding different ways to keep food fresh by assessing the quality of the raw materials pulled out of the ground. They are also concerned with finding the best ways to convert the raw ingredients into food products that can be produced on a large scale. This career function is somewhat different to that of a nutritionist, who provides advice on how nutrients are used in the body and what is best for our diet.
The laboratory manager sits separately to these guys, and is responsible for maintaining all of the equipment, creating workflows and ensuring all quality control measures are maintained. For these roles, your organisational skills are extremely important, as well as your knowledge of food science itself.
So, if you’ve got a dash of food passion and a slice of scientific knowledge, it would seem that you have exactly the right ingredients to make a perfect career for yourself in food science!