Food science

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Food scientists working in Australia
A food science laboratory

Food science is the basic science and applied science of food; its scope starts at overlap with agricultural science and nutritional science and leads through the scientific aspects of food safety and food processing, informing the development of food technology.

Food science brings together multiple scientific disciplines.[1] It incorporates concepts from fields such as chemistry, physics, physiology, microbiology, and biochemistry. Food technology incorporates concepts from chemical engineering, for example.

Activities of food scientists include the development of new food products, design of processes to produce these foods, choice of packaging materials, shelf-life studies, sensory evaluation of products using survey panels or potential consumers, as well as microbiological and chemical testing.[2] Food scientists may study more fundamental phenomena that are directly linked to the production of food products and its properties.


The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as "the discipline in which the engineering, biological, and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public".[3] The textbook Food Science defines food science in simpler terms as "the application of sciences and engineering to study the physical, chemical, and biochemical nature of foods and the principles of food processing".[4]


Some of the subdisciplines of food science are described below.

Food chemistry

Food chemistry is the study of chemical processes and interactions of all biological and non-biological components of foods.[5][6] The biological substances include such items as meat, poultry, lettuce, beer, and milk. It is similar to biochemistry in its main components such as carbohydrates, lipids, and protein, but it also includes areas such as water, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, food additives, flavors, and colors. This discipline also encompasses how products change under certain food processing techniques and ways either to enhance or to prevent them from happening.

Food physical chemistry

Food physical chemistry is the study of both physical and chemical interactions in foods in terms of physical and chemical principles applied to food systems, as well as the application of physicochemical techniques and instrumentation for the study and analysis of foods.

Food engineering

Food engineering is the industrial processes used to manufacture food. It involves coming up with novel approaches for manufacturing, packaging, delivering, ensuring quality, ensuring safety, and devising techniques to transform raw ingredients into wholesome food options.[7]

A pizza factory in Germany, an example of food engineering

Food microbiology

Food microbiology laboratory at the Faculty of Food Technology, Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies.

Food microbiology is the study of the microorganisms that inhabit, create, or contaminate food, including the study of microorganisms causing food spoilage.[8] "Good" bacteria, however, such as probiotics, are becoming increasingly important in food science.[9][10][11] In addition, microorganisms are essential for the production of foods such as cheese, yogurt, bread, beer, wine and, other fermented foods.

Food technology

Food technology is the technological aspect. Early scientific research into food technology concentrated on food preservation. Nicolas Appert's development in 1810 of the canning process was a decisive event. The process was not called canning then and Appert did not really know the principle on which his process worked, but canning has had a major impact on food preservation techniques.


In 2009, Foodomics was defined as "a discipline that studies the Food and Nutrition domains through the application and integration of advanced -omics technologies to improve consumer's well-being, health, and knowledge".[12] Foodomics requires the combination of food chemistry, biological sciences, and data analysis.

Foodomics greatly helps scientists in the area of food science and nutrition to gain better access to data, which is used to analyze the effects of food on human health, etc. It is believed to be another step towards a better understanding of the development and application of technology and food. Moreover, the study of foodomics leads to other omics sub-disciplines, including nutrigenomics which is the integration of the study of nutrition, genes, and omics.

Molecular gastronomy

Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking. Its program includes three axes, as cooking was recognized to have three components, which are social, artistic, and technical.

Quality control

Quality control involves the causes, prevention, and communication dealing with food-borne illness. Quality control also ensures that the product meets specs to ensure the customer receives what they expect from the packaging to the physical properties of the product itself.

A technician performing quality control

Sensory analysis

Sensory analysis is the study of how consumer's senses perceive food.

Careers in Food Science

The five most common college degrees leading to a career in food science are: Food science/technology (66%), biological sciences (12%), business/marketing (10%), nutrition (9%) and chemistry (8%).[13]

Careers available to food scientists include food technologists, research and development (R&D), quality control, flavor chemistry, laboratory director, food analytical chemist and technical sales.[14]

The five most common positions for food scientists are food scientist/technologist (19%), product developer (12%), quality assurance/control director (8%), other R&D/scientific/technical (7%), and director of research (5%).[13]

By country


The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia. CSIRO maintains more than 50 sites across Australia and biological control research stations in France and Mexico. It has nearly 6,500 employees.

South Korea

The Korean Society of Food Science and Technology, or KoSFoST, claims to be the first society in South Korea for food science.[15][non-primary source needed]

United States

In the United States, food science is typically studied at land-grant universities. Some of the country's pioneering food scientists were women who attended chemistry programs at land-grant universities which were state-run and largely under state mandates to allow for sex-blind admission. Although after graduation, they had difficulty finding jobs due to widespread sexism in the chemistry industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Finding conventional career paths blocked, they found alternative employment as instructors in the home economics departments and used that as a base to launch the foundation of many modern food science programs.

The main US organization regarding food science and food technology is the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, which is the US member organisation of the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST).

See also



Food Science is an academic topic so most food science books are textbooks.


Notes and references

  1. ^ Ward, Janet D.; Ward, Larry T. (21 May 2013). Principles of Food Science. Goodheart-Willcox Company, Incorporated. ISBN 978-1619604360.
  2. ^ "Food Science Activity Guides". Archived from the original on March 27, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  3. ^ Heldman, Dennis R. "IFT and the Food Science Profession." Food Technology. October 2006. p. 11.
  4. ^ Potter, Norman N.; Hotchkiss, Joseph H. (1998). Food Science. Food science texts series (5th ed.). Springer. ISBN 9780834212657.
  5. ^ John M. de Man.1999. Principles of Food Chemistry (Food Science Text Series), Springer Science, Third Edition
  6. ^ John M. de Man. 2009. Food process engineering and technology, Academic Press, Elsevier: London and New York, 1st edn.
  7. ^ Expert, E. R. P. (2023-03-21). "Food Engineering (Goals, Processes, Practices, and Technologies)". Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  8. ^ Fratamico PM (2005). Bayles DO (ed.). Foodborne Pathogens: Microbiology and Molecular Biology. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-00-4.
  9. ^ Tannock GW, ed. (2005). Probiotics and Prebiotics: Scientific Aspects. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-01-1.
  10. ^ Ljungh A, Wadstrom T, eds. (2009). Lactobacillus Molecular Biology: From Genomics to Probiotics. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-41-7.
  11. ^ Mayo, B (2010). van Sinderen, D (ed.). Bifidobacteria: Genomics and Molecular Aspects. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-68-4.
  12. ^ Cifuentes, Alejandro (23 October 2009). "Food analysis and Foodomics". J. Chromatogr. A. 1216 (43): 7109. doi:10.1016/j.chroma.2009.09.018. hdl:10261/154212. PMID 19765718.
  13. ^ a b "2019 IFT Employment and Salary Survey Facts and Figures -".
  14. ^ "What kind of careers do Food Scientists have?". Washington State University. Archived from the original on 20 March 2022. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  15. ^ "Korean Society of Food Science and Technology (KoSFoST)". KoSFoST. Archived from the original on 22 October 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2016.

Further reading


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