Food Science and Technology is a coherent and systematic body of knowledge and understanding of the nature and composition of food products, through processing and distribution.
Food Science and Technology is a discipline that draws from several other fields of study such as Microbiology, Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, nutrition and Agriculture. It is essentially the combined study of science and engineering to process, evaluate, package and distribute food. It is an attempt to better understand food processes and ultimately improve food products for the general public.
As the stewards of the field, food scientists study the physical, microbiological, and chemical makeup of food. By applying their findings, they are responsible for developing the safe, nutritious foods and innovative packaging that line supermarket shelves everywhere.
Generally in Nigeria one can get a Food Science and Technology degree from any of several universities who offer this as a 5 year course.
What Does a Food Science and Technology Professional do?
Concerned with the chemical process of producing, preserbing and making food better a food scientist or food technologist can do a whole lot of things related to the food production, packaging and distribution industry. A food scientist conducts research, does clinical trials, inspects food and can be also heavily involved in creating better food preservatives. The work of a Food Scientist / food technologist is far reaching and thus very important in today’s fast paced world where it is more important than ever for the citizens to have safe, well preserved, nutritious and affordable food.
Skills and Competencies that You Might Need as a Food Science and Technology Graduate
As a Food Science and Technology Graduate you should have the following skills to help improve your career prospects
- Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
- Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Negotiation - Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
- Systems Evaluation - Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Management of Personnel Resources - Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
Career Opportunities for Food Science and Technology Graduates
Food Science and Technology graduates can find career opportunities with food processing firms, government agencies and educational institutions. Types of positions available to food science and technology graduates include product development, quality assurance, food plant management, food research, food marketing and sales, education and extension.The major curriculum includes a balance of courses in food science, biological sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, social sciences and humanities.
Jobs Food Science and Technology graduates can do
Food Scientists / Food Technologists can work in various parts of the economy but most especially agro-allied industries, food processing/production, and research organisations. As a Nigerian graduate of Food Science and Technology here are a few careers open for pursuit;
Research Technician – In agricultural research organisations, Food and Agro-allied firms to handle food related research work
Quality Assurance Supervisor – Monitor and check quality in food manufacturing and preservation processes in Commercial Farms, Agro allied industries, Food Processing and Packaging Companies, Government food and Health Monitoring Agencies (eg NAFDAC)
Nutrition Scientist – Conduct tests and implement best standards in Food processing/packaging industries, Hotels, Restaurants/Fast Food Chains, Government Health Agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations with focus on nutrition and hunger/malnutrition elimination
Nutrition Consultants – Can work as private consultants on diet and nutrition with a client base of mid to top level earners, or work as nutrition consultant in hospitals, NGOs etc
Food Science/Technology Lecturer – You also might choose to pursue a career in education teaching food science and technology courses to students in higher institutions. You would however be needing a hgher degree to accomplish this.
Product Developer – If you knack for developing new food products and are creative enough this could be a rewarding career path. Many food processing and manufacturing companies continue to churn out new food seasoning products, new snacks, noodles, and packaged food items. You can work in the product department of conglomerates like Nestle Plc who produce fast moving edible consumer goods and products and are always on the lookout to develop new market penetrating food products.
Sectors and Industries Where You Can Work as a Food Scientist
There are a host of places, businesses, non-profit organisations and government agencies where you can find useful career opportunities as a Food Scientist. They include;
- FMCG Companies/Conglomerates
- Food Processing Companies
- Fishing/Food Preservation Companies
- Food Processing Units of Hotels, Catering Companies and Fast Foods
- Government Food Related Health Agencies (eg NAFDAC)
- Local and International NGOs on Food, Malnutrition etc
- Beverage Production Companies
Admission Requirements for Studying Food Science and Technology in Nigeria
For most high institutions in Nigeria, to study Food Science and Technology as a course, you need to meet specific academic requirements. Candidates seeking admission through the Jamb are required to have five credit level passes in the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (S.S.C.E.) or its equivalent. These should include English Language, Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics and Biology or any other Science subject.
For Jamb UTME, English Language is Compulsory for this course. The three (3) other JAMB UTME subject combination needed to study Food Science and Technology are Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics or Biology. Please check Jamb brochure for requirements for each school.
Some schools offers Food Science and Technology course with options in:
- Food Processing and Eng, Tech.
- Food Microbiology Tech.
- Food Chemistry and Nutrition Technology
- Ecology and Brewing Tech