Who is a Food Scientist?

A Food Scientist is a scientist who uses the basic principles of science such as chemistry, biology, and physics to understand the properties and behavior of foods. They apply this knowledge to make foods that are safe, convenient, healthy, or otherwise possessing characteristics that meet consumer needs.

Where They Work

Most food scientists work with food manufacturing companies. However, they may also work in food service, research, government, private consulting and education. 

Responsibilities

Food Scientists are required to use their knowledge of food to develop and produce new foods that meet customer needs (taste, flavor, nutrition, safety, convenience, price) and regulatory standards. Their knowledge also enables them to provide leadership in solving problems that may arise during food processing. Examples of specific roles could include:

  • Developing and testing new food products for the market
  • Conducting quality control tests on food during processing
  • Inspecting and monitoring operations to ensure food safety
  • Finding and applying new ways to process food more efficiently and cost effectively
  • Recording, analyzing and resenting research findings to other team members

Qualifications

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is the gold standard to enter the field however, for some specialized jobs within the field, a Master of Science or Ph.D. is usually required.

Skills Required

Food Scientists must be inquisitive, meticulously analytical and detail-oriented, and have a drive to discover and create new solutions to problems. He or she must be able to work on his/her own, as well as working collaborate in a team. Good communication skills, both written and spoken, and the ability to use information technology (IT) to record, organize, analyze and present technical information is essential. 

Median US Salary

$65,160/year (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019)

Common Job Titles

A person with a degree in food science may not have the title “Food Scientist”. Depending on where they work, and their responsibilities, common job titles may include any one of the following career pathways shown in the tree below.

Courtney Simons
Administrator
Courtney Simons is a food science professor. He holds a BS degree in food science and a Ph.D. in cereal science from North Dakota State University.
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