Food Science And Technology The Profession

Food scientists and technologists are employed in academia, by government and industry, by consulting firms, in entrepreneurial endeavors of various sorts and as private consultants. Crucial to almost any profession is the education its members receive prior to entering into that profession. Food science and technology is no exception. For that reason, the development of the Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) minimum undergraduate curriculum will be described first.

In 1958 the IFT sponsored a conference between industrial leaders and university personnel to devise an undergraduate curriculum that would answer industry's needs for graduates educated in food science (1). A model curriculum was devised. In essence it was a consensus between the course work industry thought graduates coming into their fields should have versus the very practical matter that there is a limit to the number of courses a curriculum can have and still permit students to graduate in four years.

In 1962 and again in 1965 additional conferences were held (2). They resulted in the IFT adopting its minimum undergraduate curriculum (2). It was revised again in 1977 (3). The eventual outcome was that the gradual refining of thought as to courses that are essential for a would-be food scientist to take became the IFT's minimum undergraduate standard curriculum.

The reason the specified curriculum became a standard arises from the fact the IFT put teeth into a related program. The IFT awards approximately 145 scholarships (4). IFT scholarships can go only to universities that have a curriculum conforming to IFT's minimum requirements, and, furthermore, not only must the scholarship holder be at a university conforming to the IFT's minimum undergraduate curriculum, s/he must be following that curriculum. Many food science and technology departments have more than one curriculum. At the University of Georgia, for example, there is an environmental public health program administered by the Food Science and Technology was not listed since it is outside of food science. For the first three categories, government employees averaged $49,825; 50,000; and $70,500. For scientific/trade organizations, the median salaries were $55,000; $57,000; $76,351; and $75,500. At the Ph.D. level and that of the MBA, median salaries by form of employment were comparable.

In summary, food science became defined only in the fore part of the twentieth century, and the term did not come into common use until nearly midway in this century. It differs from many other sciences in the scope of its outlook. As most sciences have developed, they have looked inward toward greater and greater specialization. Notwithstanding that, most practitioners within a field must today keep abreast of developments elsewhere in the great area in which their science belongs. A microbiologist, for example, generally attempts to stay knowledgeable of development elsewhere in the biological and biochemical fields. The scientist thus looks outward to other areas of his/her science. Food scientists and technologists must look outward with exceptional vigor. They cannot confine themselves to one major area such as the biological, biochemical, or physical sciences or engineering. Because food and food processing encompass all these areas, the food scientist or technologist must stay abreast of developments in several other diverse areas to practice the profession most effectively. The profession is thus one of unusual challenge. Because so many sciences impinge on food processes and since food is processed in an increasingly number of different ways today, there is an even greater need for food science and technology than there was when the two were first constituted as a new and separate field. Food scientists and technologists are the individuals most fit by training to be able to recognize, study, use, and interpret the myriad of interrelated processes that occur whenever food is preserved, stored, or utilized.

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