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Food science is the applied science devoted to the study of food. The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as "the discipline in which the engineering, biological, and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public". The textbook Food Science defines food science in simpler terms as "the application of basic sciences and engineering to study the physical, chemical, and biochemical nature of foods and the principles of food processing".
Activities of food scientists include the development of new food products, design of processes to produce these foods, choice of packaging materials, shelf-life studies, sensory evaluation of products using panels or potential consumers, as well as microbiological and chemical testing. Food scientists may study more fundamental phenomena that are directly linked to the production of food products and its properties.
Professional associations of food scientists include:
- The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST)
- Food Scientists and Nutritionists Association India (fsna India)
- South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST)
Some of the subdisciplines of food science include:
- Food chemistry, the molecular composition of food and the involvement of these molecules in chemical reactions
- Food physical chemistry, the study of both physical and chemical interactions in foods in terms of physical and chemical principles applied to food systems, as well as the application of physicochemical techniques and instrumentation for the study and analysis of foods
- Food engineering, the industrial processes used to manufacture food
- Food microbiology, the positive and negative interactions between micro-organisms and foods
- Food packaging, the study of how packaging is used to preserve food after it has been processed and contain it through distribution
- Food preservation, the causes and prevention of quality degradation
- Food safety, the causes, prevention and communication dealing with food-borne illness
- Food technology, the technological aspects
- Molecular gastronomy, the scientific investigation of processes in cooking, social and artistic gastronomical phenomena
- New product development, the invention of new food products
- Sensory analysis, the study of how consumers' senses perceive food
In the United States, food science is typically studied at land-grant universities. Many of the country's pioneering food scientists were women who had attended chemistry programs at land-grant universities (which were state-run and largely under state mandates to allow for sex-blind admission), but then graduated and had difficulty finding jobs due to widespread sexism in the chemistry industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Finding conventional career paths blocked, they found alternative employment as instructors in home economics departments and used that as a base to launch the foundation of many modern food science programs.
The main US organization regarding food science and food technology is the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, which is the US member organisation of the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST).
Notable food science journals include:
Notes and references
- Genevieve Wanucha, "Two Happy Clams: The Friendship that Forged Food Science", Food Technology, November 2009, p. 88.
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- Information System for Agriculture and Food Research
- Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology
- Food Science Australia
- Institute of Food Technologists - United States
- Institute of Food Science and Technology - United Kingdom
- International Union of Food Science and Technology