What does a Food Scientist do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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A food scientist performs research, conducts experiments, oversees clinical trials, and inspects finished food products. He or she is essential in the creation of safer foods, better preservatives, and more efficient food processing techniques. Professionals usually specialize in a certain area of food science, such as inventing new products, improving manufacturing and packaging strategies, or studying illnesses related to food. Most food scientists work for food processing plants, private research and development laboratories, universities, and government organizations.

Consumers depend on knowledgeable scientists and quality control workers to ensure that the food they eat is tasty, nutritious, and free from harmful diseases and bacteria. Professionals in the food science industry often specialize in testing the safety and nutritional content of food preparation, manufacturing, and finished products. Individuals in food processing plants and government organizations, such as the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, oversee the procedures used to store, prepare, and package food, enforcing health codes and deeming products safe or unsafe for human consumption. Quality control professionals set expiration dates and ensure that food is transported properly out of facilities.


A food scientist who works in a research laboratory might study the molecular composition of food, experiment with new foods or preservatives, or investigate possible improvements to processing equipment. Experts research the positive and negative effects of food additives and attempt to enhance the nutritional value of products. A food scientist may also tackle issues of economic problems and global hunger by examining ways to increase crop production and distribution.

To become a food scientist, an individual is usually required to obtain a bachelor's degree in the field from an accredited, four-year university or college. Some employers, including universities and private research laboratories prefer to hire scientists with master's or doctoral degrees. New workers typically receive formal training from experienced food scientists to learn about ongoing research, the various tools and techniques employed in a factory, regulations, and other details of the job. Training can last anywhere from a few weeks to about a year, depending on a specific employer's requirements and a new food scientist's abilities.

As the global population becomes more concerned with health, safety, and sustainability, there is a steadily growing demand for knowledgeable food scientists. New workers are needed to research and develop environmentally friendly products, packaging materials, and processes. Through educating the public and producing better goods, individuals in the food science industry have the opportunity to make significant impacts on persistent environmental and health issues such as climate change, conservation, and obesity.


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Post 3

@Ivan83 - I can understand your cynicism and I am no great fan of processed foods either. But we have to remember that it is because of food scientists that we have a safe, stable and bountiful food supply. It was not that long ago that people world wide had to contend with hunger and food born illnesses on a regular basis.

I know so many people that rail against processed foods and the whole idea of food science in general. Food is natural and automatic they say. We don't need to tinker with nature. But the flip side of this is that nature is unpredictable and the only way to ensure a necessary and consistent food supply is to apply the principles of science. So I have a lot of respect for the kinds of work that they do, even when it leads to things like Mountain Dew Code Red.

Post 2
I have been doing a lot of reading about food scientist careers, and I am thinking this might be an avenue of study that I could really excel at. I have an undergraduate degree in chemistry but I know that I will need graduate level study to get the jobs that I want. What is the best way to get quality food scientist education and training? Is there one school that is best known for this kind of thing?
Post 1
The simple truth is that food scientists are involved with the production of just about every type of food. Even fresh fruits and vegetables. Food scientist use their expertise to devise better ways of shipping and packaging the produce so that it is fresher, or at least appears fresher, when it shows up at the store.

And then you consider all the processed foods that are products of science much more so than cooking. A Chips Ahoy! cookie is more of a formula than a recipe. So it sees that the food scientists are keeping busy and will continue to be far into the future.

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