Food Scientists and Technologists

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Also known as:
Dairy Bacteriologist, Enologist, Food Preservation Scientist, Food Processing Scientist, Food Safety Scientist, Food Scientist, Food Technologist

Video transcript

Most of us take the safety of the food we eat and its availability for granted. Yet, many visitors to America marvel at the variety and abundance on display in our grocery stores. Making sure that the food supply is steady and safe is the work of agricultural and food scientists. They are involved in just about every aspect of America's diet. Form the farm to the processing plant to the packagers to the table, scientists work to make what's good even better.

Agricultural scientists develop safer ways to control pests and weeds on the farm. They also work on the necessary conditions for raising farm animals, and consider how to protect soil and water. They might work at a university agricultural research center, a large dairy, or for the government. Food scientists evaluate and invent new ways to preserve, process, package, store, and deliver food.

Their workplace might be a gleaming test kitchen or a manufacturing plant. To accomplish their vitally important work, these scientists draw on college degrees in chemistry, microbiology, plant science, agronomy, genetic engineering, and entomology - the study of insects.

A bachelor's degree is the minimum for some jobs in applied research, but a master's or doctoral degree is usually required for basic research. A Ph.D. is generally required for college teaching and administrative research positions.

Every state has what's called a land grant college, where agricultural and food science course work and research takes place. If career in agricultural or food science is appealing to you, it's a good idea to choose a specialty, and then find a college or university that provides the focused education you need.

Use chemistry, microbiology, engineering, and other sciences to study the principles underlying the processing and deterioration of foods; analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, sugar, and protein; discover new food sources; research ways to make processed foods safe, palatable, and healthful; and apply food science knowledge to determine best ways to process, package, preserve, store, and distribute food.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Seek substitutes for harmful or undesirable additives, such as nitrites.

Develop food standards and production specifications, safety and sanitary regulations, and waste management and water supply specifications.

Demonstrate products to clients.

Develop new food items for production, based on consumer feedback.

Test new products for flavor, texture, color, nutritional content, and adherence to government and industry standards.

Evaluate food processing and storage operations and assist in the development of quality assurance programs for such operations.

Study methods to improve aspects of foods, such as chemical composition, flavor, color, texture, nutritional value, and convenience.

Check raw ingredients for maturity or stability for processing, and finished products for safety, quality, and nutritional value.

Inspect food processing areas to ensure compliance with government regulations and standards for sanitation, safety, quality, and waste management.

Study the structure and composition of food or the changes foods undergo in storage and processing.

Develop new or improved ways of preserving, processing, packaging, storing, and delivering foods, using knowledge of chemistry, microbiology, and other sciences.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Food Production Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
Biology Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.