What is Food Science?

Lab photo

Food Science is a convenient name used to describe the application of scientific principles to create and maintain a wholesome food supply.

“Just as society has evolved over time, our food system as also evolved over centuries into a global system of immense size and complexity. The commitment of food science and technology professionals to advancing the science of food, ensuring a safe and abundant food supply, and contributing to healthier people everywhere is integral to that evolution. Food scientists and technologists are versatile, interdisciplinary, and collaborative practitioners in a profession at the crossroads of scientific and technological developments. As the food system has drastically changed, from one centered around family food production on individual farms and food preservation to the modern system of today, most people are not connected to their food nor are they familiar with agricultural production and food manufacturing designed for better food safety and quality.”

“Feeding the World Today and Tomorrow: The Importance of Food Science and Technology”; John D. Foloros, Rosetta Newsome, William Fisher; from Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety; 2010

Food Science has given us

  • frozen foods
  • canned foods
  • microwave meals
  • milk which keeps
  • snacks
  • nutritious new foods
  • more easily prepared traditional foods
  • above all, VARIETY in our diets.

The Food Scientist helps supply this bounty by learning to apply a wide range of scientific knowledge to maintain a high quality, abundant food supply. Food Science allows us to make the best use of our food resources and minimize waste.

Most food materials are of biological origin. How they behave in harvesting, processing, distribution, storage and preparation is a complex problem. Full awareness of all important aspects of the problem requires broad-based training.

To be a Food Scientist and help handle the world's food supply to maximum advantage, you need some familiarity with

  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Engineering
  • Some specialized Statistics.

With this special training in the applied Food Science, many exciting and productive careers with a wide range of employment opportunities exist for the trained professional, such as

  • Product Development Specialist
  • Sensory Scientist
  • Quality Control Specialist
  • Technical Sales Representative

UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology Mission Statement

The mission of the department is to generate knowledge about foods through research, and to apply and disseminate knowledge through teaching and outreach, with the goal of ensuring the availability of safe, nutritious, appealing food, with minimum environmental impact, for the benefit of all people.