The Department of Food Science & Technology has evolved from origins at the Berkeley campus, in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, in 1918, and the Department of Dairy Industry, in 1908. Click here for a Timeline and more details.
The Department, then termed Division, of Viticulture and Enology was organized following legislation, in 1880, and included instruction in olive culture by 1887. The subsequent origin and divergence of Food Science & Technology has been recounted briefly in FS&T's entry, in The Centennial Record of the University of California, 1868-1968.
The Department of Dairy Industry was organized upon the move and expansion of pre-existing programs from Berkeley to the University Farm School at Davisville, now Davis, in 1908.
Eugene L. Jack was the last chair of the Department of the Dairy Industry, from 1946 until the department was discontinued and consolidated with Food Science & Technology in 1959. In about 1966, he wrote History of the Department of Dairy Industry in the University of California, an unpublished history of the 51 years of Dairy Industry at Davis, and its antecedents at Berkeley. This is available in the Shields Library General Collection.
Emil M. Mrak was an early student in the Department of Viticulture and Fruit Products at the Berkeley campus. He joined the faculty in 1936, the year he received his doctorate. In 1948 he became Chair of the Department of Food Technology, and oversaw its move to Davis in 1951. He helped the campus achieve academic and administrative autonomy from Berkeley. And, in 1959, he became Chancellor of the Davis campus. Mrak's presentation at a symposium held at Davis in 1984, honoring the 75th anniversary of the campus, provides a brief personal history of these events prior to his chancellorship. His career-spanning memoir, A Journey through Three Epochs, is an oral history.
A song about Emil M. Mrak appears on the last page of "Food Tech Frolics 1953", sung to the tune of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow". (This was found in the Department archives; in 1953, Mrak was the Department Chair.)
Since its inception in 1925 until 1992, the UC Lab for Research in Food Preservation (UCLRFP) was administered through UC San Francisco, in later years under the UC San Francisco Department of Epidemiology and International Health (now Epidemiology and Biostatistics). The actual research was carried out at the former National Food Processors Association (NFPA) facility in Dublin, CA, which housed the UCLRFP, and whose scientific personnel had joint appointments between UC and NFPA. Keith Ito served as the first Director of UCLRFP, starting in 1981. He was also Vice President of the NFPA and of the National Food Laboratory in Dublin from 1981 to 2012. In 1992 UCLRFP was transferred administratively to the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. Nina Parkinson serves as the current Director of UCLRFP.
The UCLRFP is funded through the California Department of Health Services (CDHS), Food and Drug Branch, which is responsible for administering state regulation related to processing of low acid and acidified low acid foods. The CDHS has contracted with the University of California’s Board of Regents to operate the UCLRFP. The laboratory has the responsibility to develop official sterilization processes for all low acid canned food products regulated by the Department of Health Services. It examines and evaluates official samples of restrained material and makes recommendations to CDHS as to their ultimate disposition. It conducts training courses, develops procedures for proper operation of thermal processing equipment, and conducts research as new problems arise.