I’m a Food Scientist and Here’s What I Really Do….

What do you actually do as a Food Scientist?

I must have been asked this question a million times!  I also have to explain that Food Scientists are not chefs. Of course, we do have Food Scientists that are excellent chefs/cooks but that’s not the focus of our job unless we are into culinary. We do a lot of other things besides cooking and I’m pretty sure we all LOVE eating.

As Food Scientists, we play a very vital role in the Food Industry and as such, the Food Industry would not be complete or even succeed without us.  If you’ve read my previous articles, you will remember how and why I became a Food Scientist and why I love it with a passion.

When you become a Food Scientist, you have hundreds of specialized areas to choose from.

Sometimes at first, you may not even know which area you want to specialize in until you are actually working in an area or see what others are doing. Lets name a few popular specialized areas so you can get familiarized:

  • Food Inspector
  • Food Quality Assurance
  • Food Quality Control
  • Research & Development
  • Food Product development
  • Food Microbiologist
  • Food Safety Coordinator
  • HACCP Coordinator
  • Food Regulatory and Compliance

…..and the long list goes on and on….

After graduating from my Food Science Program at Centennial College, I landed my first job as a Research & Development Food Scientist at a Small Food Company. Before completing my probationary period, I was promoted to Food Safety & HACCP Coordinator.

Unfortunately, I was only able to do one (1) month in that role because I was offered a position in a bigger company as a Food Quality Assurance Technician. You may ask why I accepted that position after a short time, that question hits me numerous times and I have to pause before I answer–especially if I am speaking to another Food Scientist. My answer remains the same. I had to choose what best fits my current personal schedule, balancing family and professional life.

Also, I love Quality Assurance!

I am a hands on person, I like to be in the midst of everything, I like to see the operation of all the different machines, the products in it’s different stages and doing all the practical, microbial and quality checks on the products at all the different stages. My previous roles did not allow me those opportunities, I mostly did research, developed new products, documenting and dealing with different agencies and external companies that supplies the company with any form of raw material and products. I was good in these areas and what I did. However, they were not my areas of passion and did not fit into my personal life to give it that balance.

As mentioned earlier, Food Scientists may not know right away what works for them until actually being placed in an area, but that is ok!!  Don’t get confused, frustrated or give up. The Food Science field is very wide and diversified, sometimes you may have to try different areas until you figure out which area best works for you or what you have a drive or passion for.

So as Food Scientists, we are not chefs, we help to maintain the Nation’s food supply by ensuring safe food.

We create and improve food products and often work in universities, the food processing industry or the Federal government.

We use a variety of sciences, such as physics, chemistry, microbiology, biotechnology, engineering etc. to develop innovative ways of preserving, packaging, storing and delivering safe foods to our valued consumers.

Other Food Scientists are involved in applied research, which involved discovering ways to remove harmful additives or improve the content of food. Some Food Scientists conduct research on traditional cooking methods such as baking, blanching, drying, canning, pasteurization and evaporation.

Some Food Scientists inspect food processing areas, enforcing industry and government regulations, and ensuring that sanitation, quality, safety and waste management standards are met.

The Food Scientists who do not work in research, apply the findings from the food science research to improve the preservation, processing, selection, packaging and distribution of food.

When you become a Food Scientist, your job never stops! You will work varied shifts, you will work in varied environments (hot, cold, humid), whatever it takes to ensure that the food gets to the customer and consumer on time and safely.

You make sure that whatever the company states on the label, its actually done.  You ensure that the food is palatable and nutritious.  You will ensure the food that goes through any sort of process is subject to proper procedures and its environment is in compliant with regulatory bodies.

Now that you have a better understanding f the role of a Food Scientist, do you think it’s a career path that interests you?  If you think becoming one is a great career for you, the Food Industry welcomes you, we have lots of room! #FoodScientistsRock!

Stay tuned for Part 2

Author: Sashana Chattoo-Edwards

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