What is a food scientist?
As long as humans and animals rely on food to survive, there will be a need for food scientists. Food science is at the heart of solving national and global food challenges, including demand for water resources, pest and pathogen control and the effects of climate change. Food science has a wide range of applications from studying soil and farming conditions to maintaining the safety of the food that makes it onto plates.
Food scientists also improve food processing and shipping, livestock production, food preservation techniques and more. They also consider the agricultural, economic, health and sustainability impacts of techniques used across the food and agriculture industries.
Food scientists promote safe and efficient food production and distribution. Often working in research, food scientists can choose to specialize in a variety of areas, such as animal science, food and technology science, plant science and soil science. Careers in each speciality typically involve conducting experiments, analyzing reports and data and communicating findings.
Innovation is an important tenet of the food science profession, no matter the specialty you choose. Food scientists work to ensure all people have access to safe and nutritious food, including those with unique dietary needs. This can include the development of new food products, improving old food production techniques and ensuring food is safe before landing in the hands of consumers.
The applications of food science and research extend beyond the health and safety of food products. Food scientists are also responsible for improving how food is packaged, preserved, processed, stored and distributed. Additionally, food scientists are involved in the research and development of safe drugs and fuel options.
The skills a food scientist needs
Working as a food scientist requires a set of well-rounded abilities. You must possess a combination of hard and soft skills to collect and analyze food data, and then communicate it to audiences ranging from government officials to the public.
Since food science is influenced heavily by research, relevant skills include math, data analysis and observation. On the other hand, communication, interpersonal skills, creativity and entrepreneurial skills can also support a successful career in the field. With foundational education and skills, you can work as a food scientist in a setting that suits you, from a government agency to a private laboratory.