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What does a Food Engineer do?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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A food engineer is a type of engineer who works solely with food products. These engineers often have many different tasks ranging from the creation of new foods to identifying ways to preserve packaged foods longer.

Food manufacturing companies frequently employ food engineers for a variety of reasons. A person in this position may be asked to find ways to turn an unstable product, such as milk or cheese, into a shelf stable product. Some have the sole responsibility of finding different food additives that can prolong the shelf life of food. Typically, all packaged food has been handled by a food engineer at some point during the manufacturing process.

In some instances, companies hire these engineers to work on product packaging. Many different products cannot be subjected to air or sunlight, and a food engineer may be responsible for finding ways to protect foods from certain elements. Likewise, some products must be kept fresh even after a product has been opened by a consumer. Engineers who work within the food industry may spend a large portion of the workday attempting to keep products fresh for longer periods of time.

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As with any other engineering discipline, a food engineer must obtain an engineering or food science degree in order to secure a job within this field. Individuals who wish to work in this field typically study food science, chemistry, and mathematics while taking college or university courses. An in-depth understanding of how food works, and how food interacts with certain chemicals, is needed in order for a person to become a food engineer.

A major part of a food engineer's responsibility is food safety. No matter what kind of project an engineer is currently working on, all professionals of this sort are expected to practice safe food guidelines. Engineers who work within the food industry must ensure that all packaged products are safe, that all safety equipment is functioning properly, and that all products sold to consumers are safe for consumption.

These individuals may also be responsible for preventing any product tampering by creating safe tamper-proof packaging. Some manufacturers also hire food engineers to manage large food plants in addition to working on supply chain problems. While these positions are less hands-on than other positions in the field, these engineers are needed to fulfill all aspects of food manufacturing.

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anon251479
Post 4

I am an IB student and want to be a food engineer. Right now, I am a bit confused because, according to my research, I need physics. Is it possible to be a food engineer without physics? I need you reply, please. I'm applying to colleges right now and need that answer ASAP.

Ivan83
Post 3

I work as a food engineer for a medium size company that makes prepackaged spices and spice blends.

It interesting work and a lot more varied than you might imagine. Some weeks I work on packaging, some weeks I work on preservation and some weeks I work on R and D for new products I have coming out.

You might think that this kind of work would be easy or obvious but there is really a lot to it. Its not easy to make food products that can be shipped easily, that are affordable and that are safe and cheap for the consumer each and every time.

I think its one of the most interesting areas of engineering just because there is so much to do. I have worked in this field for over 20 years and I couldn't ask for a better career.

nextcorrea
Post 2

I went to engineering school and we had a separate department dedicated exclusively to food engineering.

It seemed like the people who went into food engineering were just a little bit different than everyone else in the engineering school. Most of us wanted to build bridges and buildings but these people wanted to build better soda cans and new ways of packaging turkey.

They were all good people and I can understand how important this kind of work is. Still, its funny to think of working with such small specific objects when you could be working with steel, concrete and glass.

summing
Post 1

Food engineering sounds like an interesting and important job but I can't help but think about all the warnings against eating processed foods.

We hear all the time in the news that processed foods are less healthy, that they are full of fat salt and other harmful chemicals. I understand that food needs to be preserved and that there is a time and a place for people who are experts in this area. But I also wonder if food engineers are especially responsible for all the nasty food that we see on the shelves.

Its probably a little of the good and a little of the bad. They do good work but sometimes it gets used in the service of negative means. Its like a lot of jobs I guess.

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