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What does a Food Scientist do?

Picture of Food Science students working in a lab while wearing white lab coats and observing a beaker of red liquid

As our population grows, our climate changes, and technology advances, one thing’s always going to stay the same: We all need to be fed. In a career in food science, you’re using research and technology to solve the problems that come with that. But just what Food Science means, and what a food scientist does, is often misunderstood. Here’s what it really means to be a food scientist, according to IFT, McGill, and My Food Job Rocks.

From the Farm to the Fork

Every single food or drink that you see in the grocery store is there because of a food scientist. It’s their job to make food that lasts as long as possible, while still being good for you and also tasting good. Food science is about everything that happens between food being harvested, and you buying, cooking and eating it. As a food scientist, you study what food is made of, how it responds to chemical reactions, and use what you learn to develop safe, nutritious food. You also study what makes food degrade, so you can prevent it through new and better ways to process, preserve, and package and store food. For example, you might make sure that organic, healthy apples get to the shelves in one piece, or make sugar substitutes sweet and edible. You might also study how to make food alternatives. You know that plant-based meat substitute that’s popular right now? That comes from food science.

There’s a lot of complicated science

Food science involves a blend of chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, microbiology and engineering, all to make food healthy, tasty, and sustainable. As a food scientist, you’ll need to understand all the ways to preserve food, including drying, freezing, pasteurizing and canning, among other things, while also understanding the chemistry behind food, including how proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water react to processing and storage. An important part of this science is finding healthy alternatives to preservatives, to make healthier meals.

It’s an essential science for the planet’s future

There are real problems associated with the global food supply, so as a food scientist, you’re helping to solve that. The market and the world demands food products that are refined and convenient, meaning they need to be easy to prepare, last a long time, and still be healthy and safe to eat. In other words, people don’t just want ready-to-eat foods, they need them and they need to be able to live off them. Only scientists that understand the chemistry and biochemistry of food, along with the methods of preserving it, can address this demand. And by becoming a food scientist through Centennial College, you can join them.

If it’s the kind of delicious science that interests you, you can make a career out of it with Centennial College’s Food Science Technology programs. We’ll give you hands-on, project-based experience in our on-campus labs, connect you to the industry through placements, and prepare you to enter this tasty, yet essential career.

By: Anthony Geremia