Food Science involves the application of scientific principles in the development and supply of safe, nutritious and affordable food. Food scientists have been involved in the development of many novel food products that are now freely available in shops, e.g. long-life milk, frozen and canned foods, snack foods and ready-to-eat meals. Food scientists are trained to meet the challenge of developing and supplying foods that comply with the ever-changing demands of the modern consumer. Just as importantly, food scientists lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition through the development of affordable, nutritious foods. Examples are instant weaning porridges and vitamin- and mineral-fortified staple foods.
A food scientist must be knowledgeable about the chemical composition, structure and nutritional value of food, food processing and preservation techniques, and the chemical, physical and biological changes that occur in food during processing, preservation and storage.
The food industry is South Africa’s largest manufacturing industry, and a degree in Food Science is your stepping stone to various exciting and challenging careers. The multidisciplinary nature of the Food Science courses, as well as exposure to the industry (visits to food factories, practical work in the Department’s pilot plants), allow Food Science graduates to pursue a large variety of careers in the food and the food-related industries, based on each individual’s personal interests.
The interface between food science, nutrition and health is an area of increasing concern to consumers, government and the food industry. There is an increase in consumer awareness of the impact of diet and the foods we consume on health-related diseases and well-being. Government recognises the multifactorial causes of hunger and malnutrition in our region and is committed to addressing this issue. Since consumers rely on the food industry to provide healthy, nutritious, safe and high-quality processed foods, food scientists and nutritionists employed by food and related industries will play an increasingly important role in the future to ensure that consumers have access to safe, high-quality foods that are nutritionally beneficial.
Prof Riëtte de Kock, from the Department of Food Science at the University of Pretoria (UP), delivered a plenary lecture, titled ‘Sensory food science research that resonates in Africa’, at the World Food Science and Technology Congress of the International Union for Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) held in Montreal, Canada, in August. In the lecture, Prof De Kock explained why sensory food science is critical for food security and economic development in the developing world, particularly in Africa.