Regardless of a person’s diet type, they may feel nauseous after taking a bite of a meal that does not taste or taste good – and may feel guilty about eating one. treat that seems unhealthy.
Food science examines what people choose to eat and why, and also explores questions surrounding how raw meat or fresh produce can be made into something more edible than its original form. This interdisciplinary field of study combines elements of anthropology, biology, chemistry, culinary arts, engineering, mathematics, medicine, neuroscience, nutrition, physics, psychology and sociology, and also requires an understanding of food safety regulations.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that US employment of agriculture and food scientists will be 9% higher in 2030 than in 2020. The median annual salary reported by these scientists who worked in the United States in May 2020 was of $ 68,830, according to federal statistics.
What is food science and why it matters
Food science focuses on turning crops and livestock into satisfying plates of food. It encompasses many technologies that extend the shelf life of grocery items, such as canning and pasteurization, and includes safety mechanisms that prevent contamination of food.
The goal of food scientists is to create “foods that fit into the lifestyles of all members of society,” explains Job Ubbink, professor and head of the food science and nutrition department at the University of Minnesota.
“It is a discipline that deals with ensuring an adequate, economical, safe and healthy food supply,” said Ubbink, adding that environmental sustainability is also a priority.
The role of food scientists
Food scientists occasionally discover or invent tasty and healthy foods. For example, food scientists have introduced many imitations of meat that appear to contain an ingredient but actually don’t, like Impossible Burger as a plant-based meat substitute. They have also developed gluten-free breads, pastas and pastries that are designed to look, smell and taste like gluten-filled versions.
Some food scientists identify natural substances with beneficial properties and then synthesize these materials into edible products. This is the story of Asli Samanci, a biologist with a doctorate and a master’s degree in food science.
Samanci, CEO and founder of BEE & YOU – a company that sells honeys, pollens, royal jellies and other bee-based substances – discovered her interest in bees when her son was struggling with a series of problems. health issues, including a rare autoimmune disease. A doctor recommended that she try giving her son propolis, a sealant made by bees that is sometimes used as a natural remedy. She subsequently developed a unique method of extracting propolis, which she then patented.
Samanci suggests that many food scientists are motivated by the desire to provide consumers with nourishing foods that make them feel better, and that one of their responsibilities is to ensure that the edible items they create are not. not over-processed and are “as natural as possible.”
The work of food scientists can be enjoyable and meaningful.
“Food scientists love to experiment with foods and find innovative new ways to prepare different types of food,” Crystal Chen wrote in an email. The scientific director of KhuenPhu, a company that sells CBD products – some of which are edible – adds: “There are also a lot of food scientists who have a strong sense of social responsibility. They hope to develop more stable and lower cost products. , and sustainable foods that can be used to solve food source problems. “
Steps to Become a Food Scientist
While studying food science, it is wise to gain practical experience in the food industry through an internship with a food company, experts say.
A bachelor’s degree in food science or a related academic discipline is the usual entry-level degree in the field of food science, although a graduate degree may broaden career options, depending on the experts. They add that anyone who wants to become a food research and development scientist should consider getting a master’s or doctorate.
Careers in Food Science
Food scientists sometimes specialize in improving or manufacturing new food products, but they can also focus on food consistency, quality and safety.
Sihui Ma, an academic advisor in the Department of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, notes that a food scientist could potentially find a job at an Oreo factory, making sure each cookie is exactly the same size, contains the same amount of cream and has the same mix of flavors.
Food scientists could also become flavor chemists or experts in the sensory experiences associated with the perception of a food, such as how it looks, tastes and aromas, says Ma. Others find jobs as as technical sales professionals who explain the merits and mechanisms of cooking and baking ingredients, such as sweeteners.
Culinary scientist Matt Slem, who works at Lundberg Family Farms – a California-based company that sells organic rice products – explains that culinary science is a unique branch of food science.
“Culinary science is more about how food products work, but also uses culinary techniques to create a delicious food product, like crispy rice cakes without crumbling, perfectly seasoned risottos that cook in 20 minutes, or microwave rice ready in 90 seconds, ”he wrote in an email.
Slem says he loves his job. “Every day is different, but still delicious – it’s hard to complain about being surrounded by food all day!”