On the Job
Food scientists conduct research to develop and improve food products that are healthy, safe, and appealing.
Fruit roll-ups. Orange juice with calcium. No-boil lasagna noodles. Peanut butter and jelly in the same jar. These are just a few of the things that food scientists created. They took good ideas and turned them into food products that are convenient and nutritious. Food scientists are also behind things like vegetarian foods that look, smell, and taste like meat. (They do this by using thermal energy to change proteins.)Food scientists work in the food processing industry. They also work for universities, the federal government, and state and local agencies. They help meet consumer demand for food products that are healthy, tasty, and convenient. To do this, they conduct research using their knowledge of chemistry and other sciences.
The work of food scientists varies depending on their specialty area. Some food scientists engage in basic research to discover new food sources and products. They analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, sugar, or protein. They search for substitutes for harmful additives such as nitrites. Food scientists also study methods to improve the quality of foods. For example, they might look for ways to improve flavor, color, texture, or nutritional content. In addition, food scientists develop methods to process, preserve, package, or store food. New methods must meet government rules and industry standards.
Food scientists who work in product development apply the findings of food science research. For example, they test new products in test kitchens. They also confer with specialists to resolve problems with products. For example, they might consult flavor experts or process engineers. In government jobs, food scientists develop food quality standards and safety and health regulations. Some food scientists enforce government regulations by inspecting food processing areas.
All food scientists keep records of their research and write reports of their findings.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Conduct research on new food sources and products.
- Analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, and protein.
- Search for substitutes for harmful additives. Check raw ingredients for stability.
- Study methods to improve quality of foods, such as flavor, color, and texture.
- Develop methods to process, preserve, package, or store food according to regulations.
- Test new products in test kitchens and in food processing plants.
- Confer with engineers, flavor experts, and marketing specialists to resolve problems.
- Develop standards for food quality, safety, and waste control.
- Enforce government standards by inspecting food processing areas.
- Keep records of research and write reports.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Analyze data or information.
- Use computers.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Document and record information.
- Process information.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
- Think creatively.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials needed.
- Develop and build teams.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Guide, direct, and motivate subordinates.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Provide advice and consultation to others.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a medium level of social contact.
- Communicate by phone, e-mail, and in person on a daily basis. They also write letters and memos, but less often.
- Are responsible for the health and safety of others.
- Are somewhat responsible for the work done by assistants.
- Usually work as part of a research team.
- Always work indoors.
- Often wear safety attire, such as gloves or lab coats.
- Occasionally are exposed to loud or distracting sounds and noise levels.
- Must be very exact and be sure all details are done. Errors or omissions could corrupt research findings.
- Occasionally make decisions that affect others. They sometimes consult a supervisor before deciding a course of action, but often act independently.
- Repeat the same mental and physical activities.
- Work in a competitive atmosphere where weekly deadlines must be met.
- Set most of their daily tasks and goals without talking to someone first.
- Usually work a 40-hour week.
- Travel to visit food processing plants when enforcing government regulations.
- Generally work a set schedule.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Sit or stand for long periods of time.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Use fingers or hands to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Choose quickly and correctly among various movements when responding to different signals.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.