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– Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Page address: http://cset.mnsu.edu/biology/programs/ugrad/foodsci/whatisfoodsci.html

What is Food Science Technology

One hundred years ago most people grew their own food or bought it directly from farmers. Today, the development of major urban centers with people working away from the farm, the increase in two income families where both partners work out side the home, and the global food production system has lead to the development of an extensive food processing system. This industry prepares agricultural materials, combines them, cooks, decontaminates and packages foods for the market place. In completing these tasks, the industry relies on the work of food scientists to ensure a safe, nutritious, good-tasting product. Food scientists also work to extend the shelf live of foods to make marketing easier to a busy consumer.

Food science encompasses all levels of processing. Food scientists may specialize in microbiology or chemistry to study ways to help food keep longer, or how to eliminate the possibility of a food borne illness. They may study how the biochemistry of a food is changed when it is heated or frozen or how food changes when cooked in an oven as compared to a microwave. Some food scientists study how people respond to a food item and ask questions about taste and appearance of a food. Sensory evaluation might indicate whether a cookie is moist enough or chewy enough or crisp enough. To do this a scientist needs to understand the biochemistry of food and how we sense the different components of a food.

Foods today get shipped over hundreds of miles. The consumer wants food to arrive looking good. Packaging is important to the appearance of a food. Packaging is also important in the final preparation step done in the home, especially for heat and serve items

Foods and the maintenance of good health is fast growing area of food science. The importance of folic acid in foods to help prevent birth defects is just one example. The concern over trans fatty acids in fast food another.