Careers in Food Science & Technology

Research & Development

Food Scientist and Technologist

Food scientists and technologists use a variety of methods to study the content of food. They use the information that they find to develop new food products or improve the value, production, packaging, and selection of existing food products. Aside from being involved in food production, a food scientist’s career may also involve regulatory responsibilities. They may evaluate methods used in food production facilities to make sure that food safety standards are met, and enforce regulations when necessary. Other activities may include discovering new sources of food, testing for contaminants or harmful additives, and more!

Food Science Technician

Food science technicians, also known as food analysts, provide assistance to food scientists and technologists in their research. They perform standardized tests for quality assurance, quality control, and content analysis of food products. Food Science Technicians compile and maintain data obtained from their laboratory tests. Technicians analyze results in order to classify products and samples or compare results with standard tables. They ensure that food products and packaging meet required specifications. Food technicians may be responsible for preparing reports based on their results. Technicians are involved in cleaning and maintaining laboratory equipment.

Educational Careers

Extension Agents and Specialists

A Cooperative Extension Service Agent provides education about current research findings to community members on a wide range of topics, such as agriculture, safety and environmental information. They are a part of the Cooperative Extension Service, a branch of the U.S Department of Agriculture and land-grant universities. Service Agents work with Extension Specialists, who are based at universities.  Extension Specialists provide Service Agents with necessary training and information for their community outreach.

  • Horticulture
  • Suburban sprawl
  • Environmental issues
  • Public policy
  • Food safety and nutrition

Extension specialists usually conduct research within their area of interest and use their findings within their educational programs. They may prepare other educational resources for the general public, such as videos or guide booklets.

Food Safety and Inspection 

Consumer Safety Officer

Consumer safety officers conduct assessments in production plants to verify that their food safety systems are designed properly. They also make sure that the systems function properly. CSO may conduct investigations and gather evidence to support enforcement actions.

Food Inspector

Food inspectors ensure the safety and freshness of food for public consumption. They inspect slaughter houses and processing plants to ensure that federal agricultural laws and regulations related to the production of meat, poultry, and eggs and their processed by-products are being followed.

Food inspectors may progress to work as consumer safety inspectors. These inspectors work in privately owned meat, poultry, and egg processing plants and ensure that plants are following safety sanitation guidelines. Another position food inspectors may assume is that of an import inspector. These individuals work at ports or other points of entry to the US and make sure that imported products are safe. 

Food Policy Analyst

Policy analysts are involved in formulating and evaluating government policies. They may work with groups such as non-profit organizations or agencies. Food policy analysts may focus on issues such as food safety and production, nutritional assistance programs, and relevant international affairs. Analysts are usually involved in researching the impacts of policies. Analysts obtain data and formulate statistics and reports that will later be used to address issues.

Sales and Marketing

Sales Representative

Sales representatives promote the sales of products and services of their employer companies. Sales representatives that work for companies that produce technical or scientific products typically visit with prospective buyers and explain how their product can meet their needs. For example, a pharmaceutical sales representative can meet with physicians, and other medical specialists to talk about how a certain drug works, its benefits, and side effects. Sales representatives may also sell laboratory products, medical equipment, nutrition and food products.

Areas of Employment

Federal Government

U.S Department of Agriculture – This large department takes on the responsibility of developing and executing federal policy on food and farming. The USDA oversees a variety of topics including food safety, animal and plant health, natural resource management, and the use of biotechnology and other scientific technologies, such as reproduction influences, in food. This department is divided into multiple services and programs.

U.S Department of Health and Human Services – This agency is responsible for multiple divisions related to human health. These divisions provide a variety of services. These divisions provide a variety of services. For a full list of divisions visit:  http://www.hhs.gov/open/contacts/index.html#od

U.S Department of Homeland Security – The Department of Homeland Security aims to maintain the Nation safe from possible threats. To attain this mission, the agency requires thousands of employees from wide-ranging careers and backgrounds. Nutritional Sciences majors may be involved in the areas of public health, food production safety, and biosecurity.

State Government

AgriLife Research and Extension Service – Texas AgriLife Research, as part of the Texas A&M System, is an important research institution for the State of Texas. Research areas include agriculture, plant and animal diseases, field production, and other important issues. The AgriLife extension service is the community outreach and educational component of AgriLife.

Texas Education Agency – This agency is made up of several divisions in different areas of education. Some of which include health and safety, education research and data analysis, and No Child Left Behind program coordination.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission – This commission oversees the Texas Health and Human Services System. The commission is responsible for administration of health programs as well as direct overseeing of some of these programs. It is comprised of five agencies:

State Colleges and Universities – State College and University employees are a part of the state government workforce, and include professors and research laboratory personnel.

County and Municipal Government

County and municipal governments are organized into different departments, such as the Brazos County Health Department. This department provides services to maintain public health, such as adult health and immunization clinics where community members may obtain education and health benefits. The Brazos County Health Department also has a health education and promotion division in which health educators provide programs, information, certification opportunities, and presentations for the community.  There are other health and human services locations in every community, such as the Brazos Valley Food Bank, the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency, and the Boys and Girls Club of Brazos Valley.

Other Industries

  • Food Product Development Companies
  • Nutritional Product Development Companies
  • Nutraceutical Companies
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Manufacturing Companies

Non-profit and International Opportunities

CARE – This non-profit organization focuses on fighting poverty through international programs for basic education, preventing the spread of disease, and disaster-relief services.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – This organization works to achieve food security, improve food production in rural areas, and to make sure that people have access to food with enough nutritional value to maintain healthy lives. This organization is composed of seven departments and has established offices worldwide.

Peace Corps – Peace Corps is a unique government agency in that it was established to promote world peace and friendship. The agency establishes service programs worldwide and volunteers devote their skills to participate in specific programs. The work of a volunteer depends on the needs of the host country and the ability of that volunteer to contribute to those needs.

United States Agency for International Development – USAID is a government agency that provides assistance programs in foreign countries that people in those countries to obtain basic needs, such as food and nutritional education.

World Health Organization – The WHO directs global health matters within the United Nations System. This includes leadership on research, monitoring and assessing health trends, articulating health policies, and more.

There are numerous non-profit organizations; some may even be local groups. Internship and other educational opportunities are readily available within NPO’s. Many run with a fairly small permanent staff and often require the aid of numerous volunteers to reach their goals.

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