Food scientists and food technologists work in the food and drink industry developing and ensuring the safety of a wide range of products for consumers.
Food scientists are involved in the application of biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, biotechnology, radiation science, enzymes and nutrition to keep food fresh, safe and attractive. They also research ways of producing food more quickly and cheaply. Much of the work involves quality assurance and food safety.
Food technologists plan the manufacture of food and drink products. They work on newly discovered ingredients to invent new recipes and ideas, and modify foods such as the creation of fat-free products. The work involves conducting experiments and producing sample products, and designing the processes and machinery for making products in large quantities.
Food scientists and technologists also have knowledge of chemical engineering, production planning, market and consumer research, and financial management.
Food scientists and technologists usually work 35 to 40 hours a week. This can be 9am to 5pm but shift work is common to cover production times. Food scientists tend to work in laboratories, research departments, or in quality inspection and control on production lines. Food technologists spend much of their time in factories monitoring production processes and machinery operations.
Laboratory and factory conditions will vary depending on the type of operation being managed. Protective clothing may be worn as work could involve using food materials of varying quality.
To be a food scientist or technologist you should:
Food scientists and technologists work for food manufacturers, retailers and supermarket chains, government research establishments, universities, local authorities and independent organisations which undertake research or develop new products.
Opportunities are available in quality control and product development for supermarket chains. This could involve travel to warehouses, distribution centres and suppliers’ factories.
There are promotion prospects into management and occasional opportunities to specialise. These are usually greater in large organisations and may require relocation.
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