Food Technologist Career Information
What a Food Technologist does
The work performed in the food processing industry involves the practical application of the principles of chemistry, physics, biology, microbiology, biotechnology, engineering, and other disciplines of science, for the preservation, processing and handling of food materials.
The food processing industry is engaged in converting food products like wheat, rice, sugar, oil, pulses, etc. into an edible form. It also deals with processed foods such as biscuits, bakery products, confectionery, dairy products, breakfast foods, meat, fish products, fruit and vegetable. All these items are processed and packaged to enhance and prolong their shelf life.
As a Food Technologist you will be equipped with the knowledge of not only processing foodstuffs, but storage, research and quality control also. You will experiment and determine the parameters for storage such as hygiene, temperature, etc.
You could also be working in the quality control department, operations department or get into hardcore Research & Development.
This industry provides ample job opportunities to persons with specific skills and abilities. Some industries include: • Food processing companies like Nestle, Britannia etc.
• Milk co-operative organisations like Amul. (You will be ensuring that the butter is utterly, butterly delicious!)
• Food research laboratories
• Food wholesalers and retailers, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and other catering establishments
• Industries working on the development of goods and services, which convert a raw farm crop into ready-to-use food, according to the demands of the customers
• Public sector undertakings in the Department of food
• Research and development laboratories offer many openings for scientists in the food sciences disciplines to conduct experiments to help improve the yields, appearance, flavour, nutritive value and general acceptability of the packaged foods, and develop alternatives from different food sources.
You could also start your own home catering service and delivery networks. The packaging and distribution of home-made condiments, pickles, and sauces are other avenues of self-employment.
The concept of processed foods has caught the imagination of consumers in recent years, because of their enhanced convenience, variety, nutrition and taste. The challenge therefore lies in continuously developing new variations of food items, as well as new processes that will maximise its appeal and shelf life. There is a constant demand for new products like ready-to-eat snacks, breakfast cereals, textured vegetable protein foods and so on. You could even work as consultants for international organisations such as UNICEF and WHO.
The last few decades have seen a radical change in people's ideas about food and health. The increase in diseases and medical problems has also forced people to improve their dietary habits.
Firms are constantly trying to minimise the use of chemicals and preservatives. Indians in general have an aversion to processed foods. But quality imports from abroad have begun to challenge that notion. Indian industry is waking up to these prospects. Exports to Europe and America are also being targeted.
The industry is being modernised creating a lot of employment opportunities for the trained Food Technologists. The growth is going to be strengthened by various MNCs entering India.
Abilities & Traits Required
You need to be interested in scientific research. The job involves long, strenuous hours of experimentation and an analytical mind becomes imperative.
A food technologist has to be particular about cleanliness and hygiene and should be prudent, conscientious and meticulous.
Various Indian universities offer degree courses in Home Science, Food Technology and Food Science. The duration of these courses vary from two to three years. MSc and PhD courses in Food and Nutrition, Home Science, Food Technology and Bio-Technology are also available in various universities and institutes.
For a BSc in Home Science/Food Technology/Food Science the minimum requirement is 12th with Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths. For MSc /Management, the eligibility criteria is BSc. Home Science graduates or higher degrees in Dietetics/Nutrition and Hotel Management graduates (Food & Beverage) can work as a team in food production industries, marketing, preservation and so on.
You could also do a certificate course in Bakery and Confectionery, Canning and Food Preservation. There are also training institutes offering post-degree courses in specialised aspects of Food Processing.
The Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies has 33 Food and Nutrition Extension Centres in different parts of the country providing short-term courses and training in Home Scale Preservation of fruits and vegetables, preparation of bakery and confectionery items, rice milling, oil seed processing, etc.
There are also Fruit Preservation Centres in some states for training in the preservation of fruits and vegetables. All courses in this field, however, require a background in science.
You can start with about Rs 30000, moving on to Rs 45000-50000 per month. Of course, with more experience, the money will flow in. Think of the amount Anjali Mukherjee must be earning per month. Salaries with multinational companies are correspondingly much higher.
Research organisation pays you anywhere between Rs 30000-45000. If you start a niche product like health foods or health drinks, you could earn much higher.