Hello friends I am Yash Ahire, currently working as freelance food consultant. Generally when people ask me about my qualification and I tell them that I did my Masters in Food Science and technology they tend to connect it with Hotel Management or some sort of catering/cooking stuff. So first let’s get this confusion out. Food science has nothing to do with hotel management rather it is the branch of applied sciences that combines the fundamentals of biochemistry, physical sciences and chemical engineering to study the physical, chemical and biological nature of food items.
In simple words, food science (or food technology) deals with the manufacturing, processing, treatment, preservation, and distribution of food.
The ultimate objective of food science is to understand the principles of food processing and to improve the food quality for the general public. Whatever food item (especially packaged ones) you come across in the supermarket (or retail store), has had some contributions from a food scientist, food technologist or food engineer.
Importance of Food Science and Technology.
Food is essential for all forms of life; and humans need food for survival. Like shelter, clothes, education and healthcare, food is also a basic necessity for mankind. You must have experienced it during this pandemic.
Almost all of the food items are biological in origin. The process of harvesting, processing, distribution, storage and preparation is quite complex. Understanding the process, and solving various problems during the whole process, requires broad-based knowledge and training.
Food scientists are responsible for making safe and nutritious food along with innovative packaging, and that also in abundance, to meet this growing population and limited producers. Thus, Food Scientists allow us to make the best use of our food resources and minimize waste of resources.
There has been a tremendous evolution of food system worldwide, thanks to food science and technology. Processed food items are more convenient to consume, and more importantly can be more tasty and healthy as well. For eg:- Pasteurized Milk. (It is safe to consume as there are no pathogens and active enzymes.)
Some of the best examples (products) of food science and technology that we come across in our daily life are:
- Frozen Food (frozen peas, aloo tikki, chicken nuggets, etc.)
- Canned Food (rasgulla, mango pulp, mushrooms, etc.)
- Snacks & Fast Food (chips, fries, pizza, burger, pasta etc.)
- Microwave Meal
- Ready-To-Eat Meals
- Bottled and Packaged Milk (long-life, skimmed, etc.)
- Baby Foods
- Low Fat Butter (Nutralite)
- Coffee (Instant and Filter)
- Cereals (including cereal bars)
- Packaged Juice (Fruit and Vegetable)
- Aerated Drinks (Cola), Energy Drinks (Gatorade, Red Bull), Beer, Wine and other alcoholic beverages
Growing Demand of Food Science & Technology Professionals
Relatively Food Science is still a very new discipline, and it is growing due to rapid urbanization and lifestyle changes worldwide. Being a branch of applied sciences, Food Science is very multi-disciplinary in nature, just like Biomedical Science, Pharmacy, etc. Food Science involves chemistry (organic, inorganic and physical), biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition, chemical and process engineering. The base of food science lies within the understanding of the chemistry and biochemistry of food components like proteins, carbohydrate, fats, minerals, vitamins and water.
So, the field needs highly qualified and trained Food Scientists.
Due to advancements in technology and our hectic daily life, there is an increasing demand for easy to prepare (e.g. Maggi, frozen pizza) and easy to consume food items (e.g. ready-to-eat meals). Apart from quality, factors like safety and nutrition value also need to be kept in mind. Therefore, there is a growing market demand for more advancements and sophistication in the field of food science and technology globally.
Required Education & Training for a Career in the Food Industry
Ideally you need to have Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (PCB) combination in your 10+2, and may be Mathematics as well. At Bachelors level, ideal courses are 3-year or 4-year degree courses in Food Science, Food Technology, Food Science and Technology, or Food Science and Agriculture.
Alternative courses are Biotechnology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Chemical/Process Engineering, Nutrition, Pharmaceutical Sciences etc.
To have a career in R&D, QC and QA, you will require a higher degree (Masters or PhD). If you are more inclined towards the sales and marketing (product/brand management) roles then an MBA will be very helpful.
In case you want to pursue a career as a Nutritionist or Dietician, a formal degree after Bachelors is not always necessary. You can do a certificate or PG diploma course in nutition or Dietetics.
Top Academic & Research Institutes in India
Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI)
National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM)
Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT)
National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI)
Food and Drug Toxicology Research Centre (FDTRC)
National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)
Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR)
Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)
Department of Food Science and Technology, Pondicherry University
International Life Sciences Institute – India (ILSI)
IISER – Pune
Bhaba Atomic Research Centre
National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI)
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, SNDT Women’s University
Agricultural & Food Engineering Department, IIT Kharagpur
Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering & Technology (CIPHET)
Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI)
Shivaji University Kolhapur, Department of Technology (SUK, DOT)
Dr. Balasaheb Sawant Kokan Krishi Vidyapeeth Dapoli.
National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD)
Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI)
Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR)
Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE)
Why Pursue a Career in Food Science & Technology
The food industry is one of the largest in the world. People will never stop to eat (essential for survival). Hence, it will be in demand always, and recession-proof. You can choose any role within the food industry-behind the desk or in the lab. You can choose any function-R&D, manufacturing, Quality Control, Sales and Marketing, Teaching and Consulting within the Government, Industry or Academia.
The author is owner of Vighnaharta Food Solutions, Satara
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