Food Science and Technology is a discipline that draws from several other fields of study such as microbiology, chemical engineering and nutrition. It is essentially the combined study of science and engineering to process, evaluate, package and distribute food. It is an attempt to better understand food processes and ultimately improve food products for the general public.
As the stewards of the field, food scientists study the physical, microbiological, and chemical makeup of food. By applying their findings, they are responsible for developing the safe, nutritious foods and innovative packaging that line supermarket shelves everywhere.
Generally in Nigeria one can get a Food Science and Technology degree from any of several universities who offer this as a 5 year course. There is a background work in engineering related fields.
What Does a Food Scientist do?
Concerned with the chemical process of producing, preserbing and making food better a food scientist can do a whole lot of things related to the food production, packaging and distribution industry. A food scientist conducts research, does clinical trials, inspects food and can be also heavily involved in creating better food preservatives. The work of a Food Scientist is far reaching and thus very important in today’s fast paced world where it is more important than ever for the citizens to have safe, well preserved, nutritious and affordable food.
Careers for Food Scientists and Technologists
Food Scientists can work in various parts of the economy but most especially agro-allied industries, food processing/production, and research organisations. As a Nigerian graduate of Food Science and Technology here are a few careers open for pursuit;
Research Technician – In agricultural research organisations, Food and Agro-allied firms to handle food related research work
Quality Assurance Supervisor – Monitor and check quality in food manufacturing and preservation processes in Commercial Farms, Agro allied industries, Food Processing and Packaging Companies, Government food and Health Monitoring Agencies (eg NAFDAC)
Nutrition Scientist – Conduct tests and implement best standards in Food processing/packaging industries, Hotels, Restaurants/Fast Food Chains, Government Health Agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations with focus on nutrition and hunger/malnutrition elimination
Nutrition Consultants – Can work as private consultants on diet and nutrition with a client base of mid to top level earners, or work as nutrition consultant in hospitals, NGOs etc
Food Science Lecturer – You also might choose to pursue a career in education teaching food science and technology courses to students in higher institutions. You would however be needing a hgher degree to accomplish this.
Product Developer – If you knack for developing new food products and are creative enough this could be a rewarding career path. Many food processing and manufacturing companies continue to churn out new food seasoning products, new snacks, noodles, and packaged food items. You can work in the product department of conglomerates like Nestle Plc who produce fast moving edible consumer goods and products and are always on the lookout to develop new market penetrating food products.
Sectors and Industries Where You Can Work as a Food Scientist
There are a host of places, businesses, non-profit organisations and government agencies where you can find useful career opportunities as a Food Scientist. They include;
Food Processing Companies
Fishing/Food Preservation Companies
Food Processing Units of Hotels, Catering Companies and Fast Foods
Government Food Related Health Agencies (eg NAFDAC)
Local and International NGOs on Food, Malnutrition etc
Beverage Production Companies
As a Food Science Graduate you are limited by only your imagination and your ability to take a proactive step in building your career.
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