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What is Food Science?

Food science involves chemistry; physics and biology. Food scientists study foods to make it safer; more nutritious, healthier and tasty. Scientists are also working on the challenge of how are we going to supply enough food in the future as the global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

    What's in your bread Lots of bubbles. Image by IFR

    What's in your bread Lots of bubbles. Image by IFR

What do food scientists do?

Food scientists do lots of things: some food scientists develop new food products; some test food to make sure it is safe; others work with consumers to evaluate how food is perceived by our senses: how it looks; tastes; smells and feels and even the effect on our brain. Some food scientists look at the structure of food and how the chemical and physical nature of food can influence our health. Some food scientists look at how we make food more nutritious and how we can add value to the food chain. Some food scientists are engineers – looking at the manufacturing processes to manufacture foods while others may look at the packaging and how food can be preserved. Food scientists work in some challenging areas: how are we going to tackle producing and manufacturing food for an increasing population as resources become scarcer? Sometimes food scientists even get to eat the results of their experiments!

Exciting Food Science!

Every wondered why some foods taste so good? Why don’t the bubbles in an Aero float out of the chocolate, how do you get a runny yolk in a Creme Egg and what chemistry is happening in caramelisation? How did food scientists identify horsemeat in burgers and other food products? Why is it safe to eat bacteria in cheese and yoghurt but not bacteria in meat? Did you know the same chemical reaction is used to turn meat, beer and toast brown and milk; mayonnaise and ice cream are all emulsions? Why can’t you get ketchup out of a bottle but once you do it won’t stop and could eating ketchup be one of your 5 a day?

    A tapioca pearl, zomed in really close. Image by IFR

    A tapioca pearl, zomed in really close. Image by IFR

The importance of food science

Food scientists are responsible for developing safe, nutritious foods that we all take for granted each day. It is a global science and can be truly international – our food supply is dependent on lots of nations trading with each other. Yet around the world there are still hungry people and worldwide over 900 million people are malnourished. Scientists are investigating the crucial link between diet and health so that foods can be developed which have maximum nutritional value.

Find out more:

Nottingham School of Biosciences and The Institute of Food Research

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