Career Guide: Do you want to be a Food Technologist?

Food Technology is a multi-disciplinary programme which combines food science, microbiology and engineering education for food and related industries. Food technology is a discipline concerned with all aspects of food, beginning with harvesting or slaughtering, and ending with its cooking and consumption. It uses engineering, biological and physical sciences to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consumption of the public.

Examples of the activities of food technologists include: the development of new food products, choice of packaging materials, shelf-life studies, these experts are referred to as food scientists or food engineers.



Increasingly, food technologists, food engineers, and others are being referred to as food scientists. However, Food technology can be broken down into well-defined topics and Food technologists may be called after their specialist areas. These topics include:

Food Safety: Analyzes the causes, prevention and communication dealing with food-borne illness.

Food Microbiology: Studies the positive and negative interactions between micro-organisms and foods.

Food Preservation: Studies the causes and prevention of quality degradation.

Food Engineering: Analyzes the classical unit operations in engineering applied to food manufacturing.

Food Product Development: Analyzes the intervention of new food products.

Sensory Analysis: Studies how food is perceived by the consumer’s sense.

Food Chemistry: Analyzes the molecular composition of food and the involvement of these molecules in chemical reactions.

Food Physics: The study of physical aspects of food (such as viscosity, creaminess and texture).

Among its domain of knowledge and action are design of machinery and processes to produce foods and pharmaceuticals; design and implementation of food safety and preservation methods in the production of foods; biotechnological processes of production of foods and pharmaceuticals; choice and design of food packaging materials; quality control of foods and pharmaceuticals; heating, chilling, freezing, transport and storage of foods; chemical and bio-chemical aspects; and the sustainable technologies in food processing.



Most food technologists end up working for food producing companies such as Indomie Food Company, Nestle food company, Cadbury Plc. Other food technologists specialize in consultancy.

Apart from the food industry, the main employers of food scientists are the sensory analysts and the food engineers. Some food technologists with much experience are employed as teachers in higher institutions, where they lecture various courses and some work as cooks in various organizations and parastatals and also as self-employed, running a catering school.

Food technologists often begin their careers in food laboratories, or as research assistance in laboratories. After substantial experience, they may be promoted to project leaders, programme management or management to research positions, but prospects vary with different employers. A food technologist with a bachelor’s degree may have limited promotion prospects. Postgraduate qualifications are helpful. More senior positions are less likely to involve laboratory work.



Secondary school: relevant subjects include Mathematics, English Language, Chemistry, Biology and any of these Physics, Economics and Agricultural Science.



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