Food scientists perform a variety of tasks related to the production, testing and consumption of food. They may work in quality assurance within a production facility, testing for levels of various nutrients and the presence or absence of microbes (which are essential to proper nutritional labeling and food safety). Food scientists may perform routine checks of the product throughout the production process to verify the finished product is prepared correctly. Some food scientists may even develop new techniques to improve and streamline the production process or create new, improved packaging uniquely suited to the product. An agricultural food scientist works with farmers on a variety of tasks, including soil analysis, and provides advice about crop growth.
Food scientists generally work full time during regular business hours, and travel may be required depending on the scientists' employer and specialty. They frequently travel to various production facilities to ensure all applicable safety and labeling standards are being met by their organization. These scientists' environment may vary; for example, agricultural food scientists may spend much of their day outdoors working with farmers; other types of food scientists may spend nearly all of their time indoors in laboratory and production settings, working with food producers, lab assistants and other scientists.
Food scientist positions typically require at least a bachelor's degree in food science, agricultural science or a related field. A period of training lasting from a few weeks to a year (depending on the complexity of their tasks) is usually provided to new hires by a senior food scientist. Many university-affiliated employers prefer to hire food scientists with a master's degree or higher, and voluntary certifications may be preferred as well.
Food Scientist Tasks
Design, execute, and interpret scientific experiments to develop and optimize products.
Understand plant equipment and processes to appropriately create solutions.
Research, identify, and implement new practices to reduce costs and improve quality.
Document specifications for materials, production, and finished products.