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Food Scientist and Technologist
Food scientists and food technologists are responsible for applying the findings of research in food processing to the development and improvement of products.

Food science is the scientific study of food substances and components and the changes they undergo during various processes. It concerns research on preservation techniques, the development of new products, troubleshooting and problem-solving.

Food scientists and technologists are involved in the following areas:

- Product research and development: Research is mainly undertaken to evaluate existing problems in the food industry, as well as to initiate and keep pace with developments in food science and technology.

- Food scientists and technologists conduct research to solve problems in the food industry and keeps pace with new developments. They analyze samples to determine their physical, microbiological, chemical or spectrographical nature.

- Decay is still the main cause of food loss in many countries, as people do not know how to prevent food from being spoiled. Food scientists are able to overcome many of these problems by generating new knowledge on the chemical, biochemical, physical and microbiological attributes of food and food components.

- Processes such as freezing, canning or drying can preserve food products so that they are available throughout the year. Food scientists must however, be able to apply these processes while trying to reduce to the minimum, negative effects such as loss of nutrients or texture changes.

- Research on product development leads to the improvement of existing products by either changing the substances or the manufacturing techniques to make them more profitable or to improve the quality of the product. Food scientists and technologists work closely with the marketing section, which keeps them informed of consumer needs and preferences.

- Quality control: Food scientists and technologists in food factories have to ensure that products satisfy prescribed quality requirements and to report any deviations from the standard. They might undertake inspection at manufacturers to ensure that grading regulations and hygiene specifications are met. They analyze samples at various stages of processing to check quality. They also determine whether raw foodstuffs are suitable for processing and seek methods to make products more usable

- Production: Food scientists and technologists at food producers specialize in the following areas: the structural requirements that a food factory must satisfy; hygiene requirements in the factory and for the equipment, as well as the workers; quality requirements of raw material, the manufacturing process and general processing; the quality of the end product; the handling of the product after manufacture of the product, packaging material, labelling and product composition.

- Administration: Food scientists and technologists are also responsible for administrative work, reporting and supervising. This forms part of the work for which all technologists are responsible in a laboratory of a research institution or a factory, where supervision of food manufacturing processes is done. They also supervise laboratory assistants and food plant workers.

Satisfying Aspects
- applying research results and technological advances in food processing
- helping to produce processed foods that satisfy customer preferences
- the challenge and variety in the work

Demanding aspects
- having to travel to various factories for quality control and inspection purposes
- frustration when a promising technique fails to materialize

A food scientist and technologist should:
- like to work with biological material, especially food products;
- be accurate and methodical;
- be responsible;
- make independent decisions;
- work well with others;
- establish good relationships with people (due to essential teamwork).

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences, Consumer Studies

Degree: BSc Food Science - US, UP, UFS, UV.

Diploma: Food Technology, Hospitality Management - CPUT, TUT, DUT, UJ and most TVET colleges. Courses up to doctorate level are available at TUT.

The course takes 3 years to complete and consists of 4 semesters' theory and practical training at a university of technology and 1 year in-service training with an approved employer in the food industry.

- such organisations as: CSIR, SABS
- Research Institute for Fruit and Fruit Technology
- food processing factories for fruit and vegetables, cereals, meats, dairy products, vegetable oils
- government departments, as inspectors of food processing
- marketing boards
- universities and universities of technology
- self-employment - can work as a consultant for businesses and supply them with professional advice; can also start own food processing business with enough experience and capital

SA Association for Food Science & Technology
P O Box 868
Ferndale, 2160
Tel: (011) 789 1384
Fax: (011) 789 1385