Food scientists and food technologists are responsible for applying the findings of research in food processing to the development and improvement of products. Food science is the scientific study of food substances and components and the changes they undergo during various processes. It concerns research on preservation techniques, the development of new products, troubleshooting and problem-solving.
Food scientists and technologists are involved in the following areas:
Product research and development: Research is mainly undertaken to evaluate existing problems in the food industry, as well as to initiate and keep pace with developments in food science and technology.
Food scientists and technologists conduct research to solve problems in the food industry and keep pace with new developments. They analyse samples to determine their physical, microbiological, chemical or spectrographical nature.
Decay is still the main cause of food loss in many countries, as people do not know how to prevent food from being spoiled. Food scientists are able to overcome many of these problems by generating new knowledge on the chemical, biochemical, physical and microbiological attributes of food and food components.
Processes such as freezing, canning or drying can preserve food products so that they are available throughout the year. Food scientists must however, be able to apply these processes while trying to reduce to the minimum, negative effects such as loss of nutrients or texture changes.
Research on product development leads to the improvement of existing products by either changing the substances or the manufacturing techniques to make them more profitable or to improve the quality of the product. Food scientists and technologists work closely with the marketing section, which keeps them informed of consumer needs and preferences.
Quality control: Food scientists and technologists in food factories have to ensure that products satisfy prescribed quality requirements and to report any deviations from the standard. They might undertake inspection at manufacturers to ensure that grading regulations and hygiene specifications are met. They analyse samples at various stages of processing to check quality. They also determine whether raw foodstuffs are suitable for processing and seek methods to make products more usable
Production: Food scientists and technologists at food producers specialise in the following areas:
The structural requirements that a food factory must satisfy; hygiene requirements in the factory and for the equipment, as well as the workers; quality requirements of raw material, the manufacturing process and general processing; the quality of the end product; the handling of the product after manufacture of the product, packaging material, labelling and product composition.
Administration: Food scientists and technologists are also responsible for administrative work, reporting and supervising. This forms part of the work for which all technologists are responsible in a laboratory of a research institution or a factory, where supervision of food manufacturing processes is done. They also supervise laboratory assistants and food plant workers.
Degree: BSc Food Science - US, UP, UV.
Diploma: Food Technology, Hospitality Management - CUT, CPUT, TUT, DUT, VUT, UJ and most TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges. Courses up to doctorate level are available at TUT.
The course takes 3 years to complete and consists of 4 semesters’ theory and practical training at a university of technology and 1 year in-service training with an approved employer in the food industry.
SA Association for Food Science & Technology
Box 4507, Durban, 4000, South Africa
Tel: (031) 368-8000