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Food Scientist

A food scientist studies the microbiological, physical and chemical properties of food, ingredients and processes within manufacturing companies, or as part of a research laboratory. They also often look at how consumers behave in relation to buying food and trends in eating habits.

If you are interested in a career in food science, visit Qualifax (www.qualifax.ie) to search for relevant courses at all levels and entry points.

Some alternative job titles for this role

  • Food Technologist
  • Product Development Manager/Scientist

What the job involves

  • Check raw ingredients for product suitability 
  • Testing final products for safety, quality and nutritional value
  • Test new products for flavour, texture, colour 
  • Test new products under government legislation, and processing, consumer and industry standards
  • Perform inspections and tests on finished products to ensure that food safety and hygiene standards are met in food processing, storage and handling
  • Analyse the content of food to determine the levels of vitamins, fat, sugar and protein
  • Test food samples for particular types of moulds, yeast and bacteria that may be harmful to humans and animals
  • Generate new product ideas
  • Liaise with marketing staff
  • Identify and choose products from suppliers
  • Determine the best ways to process, package, preserve, store and distribute food
  • Stay up to date on current food regulations

How your career can develop

Promotion to senior food scientist is possible after 10+ years of experience in the industry. A degree in food science can open many doors in both industry and research. Food scientists may move from industry into research or vice versa, or may move into consultancy or even working for themselves developing food products etc.

Why it matters

A new, high-quality rice flour could help towards aiding global food poverty. "This rice flour serves not only as an alternative to wheat flour for those with wheat intolerance, but could also help to overcome the global food problem in the future,” says Dr Yayoi Onda of Yamagata University, Japan, one of the leading food scientists conducting this research.

Skills

  • Critical thinking/problem-solving ability – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems
  • Attention to detail, particularly with regard to health, safety and hygiene
  • Active learning ability – Understanding the implications of new information for problem-solving and decision-making
  • Good business, IT, analytical and numerical abilities
  • Being a confident, independent worker and a good team player
  • Good communication and observation skills

Typical employers

  • Food and drink manufacturing and retail companies 
  • Government organisations
  • Research organisations and consultancies
  • Universities

Typical salary

  • Graduate/Starting  €23,000
  • Senior/Potential    €35,000+

Typical qualifications

Graduates can enter this field with a degree in agricultural or food science. Courses may include food processing and packaging, agricultural analysis and chemistry, dairy biology, nutrition and legal issues. These programmes often offer the chance to gain hands-on, industry experience through internships.

Alternative routes to a bachelor’s degree in this area may apply to students that have a PLC qualification in a related course or general chemistry certification or diploma. For further details on eligibility requirements for third level entry following a PLC qualification, students should visit the CAO course search at Careersportal.ie

Further information