The greatest thing since sliced bread.
Food technologists (a.k.a. food scientists) are key personnel in the food processing industry. Generally speaking, their job is to review, control and improve methods of food production at all or any of its stages, be it canning, freezing, packaging, hygiene, etc. Food technologists often spend a lot of time stewing in laboratories (they ARE scientists, after all), and research/study into chemical changes that can occur in our food is very much their bread and butter. Their ultimate goal is often to find a new and better way to maximise food shelf life without sacrificing its nutritional content. However, other important aspects of their research could, for example, include investigating the effects of additives and preservatives on certain foods, as well as ways to enhance the flavour or overall appearance of consumables. We owe innovative products like milk powder, decaffeinated coffee and freeze dried foods to the efforts of food technologists.
The job’s not all milk and honey, though. A person has got to work hard before he/she is qualified to become a food technologist. To start off, a bachelor’s degree in food technology, food chemistry, food analysis and/or food microbiology is absolutely essential, and these degrees can be supplemented by courses in food engineering or food processing. From there, it’s not uncommon for further studies in those fields to be required – postgraduate degrees will undoubtedly be valuable. To guarantee employment in some of the top food tech centres of the world, a general grasp of the food industry or business would be icing on the cake.
If you want a meaningful job, and want to do something that has a real and noticeable effect on large numbers of people, food technology is definitely an area you should consider. To put things in perspective: most people eat meals three times a day, and each meal consists of at least a couple of separate ingredients. Every single one of these ingredients will have gone through a country’s food safety requirements, and in turn, each of these requirements will have been reviewed or impacted upon in some way by food technologists! How’s that for a job with meaty responsibilities?
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A sweet database of foods and products particularly for food technologist use. http://www.food-ingredients.com
The European Federation of Food Science and Technology is the big cheese when it comes to international food tech problem-solving. http://www.effost.org