Food Science and Technology
For those who find food afascinating subject, a career in food is definitely an interesting option. Food science and technology is a vast field which includes fresh, as well as packaged food. “Food technology uses sciences from chemistry, engineering, microbiology; nutrition etc. to produce foods that last longer, with better retention of nutrients, is safer and also produces many specialty products. Thus it makes seasonal foods available throughout the year, destroys pathogens and deactivates toxic components to make foods safer and deals with ready convenient foods,” informs Dr J S Pai, executive director of Protein Foods and Nutrition Development Association of India.
There are both diploma and degree courses available in the field of food science and technology in India. On completion of Class XII, one can pursue a diploma course in food technology. Students with a BSc degree in Physics, Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry, or a BTech in Food Technology can seek admission for MSc course in Food Technology. Those graduating with degrees in home science, nutrition and dietetics and hotel management are also eligible for higher studies in food technology.
Anyone with a knack for scientific thinking, problem solving ability, interest in food nutrition and health, good communication skills and team spirit can do very well in this field. “Basic skills like inquisitiveness, a healthy craving to learn more, enthusiasm and strength coupled with set goals and hard work will lead to the attainment of these goals,” says Neha Shah who works with Dabur India Ltd as a food scientist.
Depending on one’s qualification and interest, there are many options available to choose from. “A person can choose to work in food manufacturing industries as it is a sector which needs persons for work from the basic level to the higher level. Positions like new product developer, production supervisor, production executive and quality controller are easily available,” states Sheetal Khadye, R&D manager, Puratos Food Ingredients India Pvt Ltd. There are also marketing and technical service positions available with ingredient suppliers. With the introduction of new food laws, regulatory positions are now also available.
According to Vijay Bhaskar Reddy, head of the R & D foods division, Dabur India Limited, “Today there are plenty of good opportunities in research foundation, analytical testing, quality control, dairies, production and marketing.” Other options include working in hospitals, bakeries, confectionaries, poultry farm, nut processing industry, frozen food units, the food processing division in catering units, distilleries and packaging industry. For those who wish to share their food knowledge, teaching is another available option.
The process of product development does not just include the packaging of raw material, but taste and nutrition are also important. “Newer aspects in the industry such as patents, emerging pathogens, special nutritional needs, new food laws and a new quality system are making an impact on the curriculum,” states Pai.
Although food technology is a versatile field, one has to face challenges on day to day basis. “Development of a new product which is pleasant to taste and is of good quality while being cost effective, is a big challenge,” says Khadye. To this, Pai adds, “Maintaining a good supply chain with decent manufacturing practises is also a task. Consumers are now expecting every food product to have excellent taste and quality at a reasonable cost. New food laws have allowed the consumption of some ingredients in functional foods that help reduce the risk of certain ailments like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. These advantages have to be included without affecting the taste, which is a big challenge.” Another challenge is that new global products are appearing in the market which is why local products have to compete with quality, taste and cost. A food scientist should be prepared to work for long hours.
Overall, food science is a field that is gaining momentum, what with more and more aspirants entering the field, and a wider scope of opportunities available to them. Due to an increase in health awareness and more consumers looking into the nutritional value of foods buyers are demanding more variety in food, coupled with convenience. With a fresh lot of companies entering the field, there is a much wider scope for careers and competition together.
Diploma in Food Technology, Malvan
BTech (Food Engineering), Jadavpur University (after BSc)
MSc in Food Technology, Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore
BSc with food and nutrition, Dr. Babasabeb Ambedkar Marathawada University
Diploma in Food Technology, SNDT Mumbai
BTech, Jalgaon and Aurangabad
BTech from Institute of Chemical Technology
University of Mumbai: (MSc Tech is available in foodtechnology and in fermentation technology) .