Food Quality, Microbiology, and Food Safety
Recent advents of industrialization have allowed society to grow more food and deliver it to more people around the globe. With this efficiency in food production, it’s imperative that the quality of food at all stages of processing is maintained to avoid loss of nutrition, prevention of disease, and limit food waste. Even more important is the attention to safe water resources to ensure drinking quality.
Microbiology is a critical aspect of food science and often can be the difference between life and death to millions of people around the world. Microbiological quality control programs are essential throughout the food production chain to minimize the acute risk to human health posed by bacteria, mold, and yeast.
Food quality, microbiology, and food safety are all avenues of specialization in a career in food science. Students on this career path will gain an understanding of
- How microorganisms interact and engage with the global food supply, whether that food is directly from a farm or from a processor.
- The complete farm-to-table process and innovation of all aspects of food creation.
- How pathogens cause human diseases and where they originate from.
- The mechanisms of how alternative meat and other food products are created and secured.
- How food products are tested for quality and why.
Beyond the lab
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 48 million people in the U.S. (1 in 6) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. To reduce these numbers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) helped to enact the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to ensure producers are taking appropriate action to prevent foodborne illnesses.
A career in food quality doesn’t have to be in a research lab or behind a microscope. Plenty of help is needed to help educate and train producers around the world to prevent foodborne illnesses. Many skills are necessary to accomplish food safety including: a willingness to understand microbiology and pathogens, excellent communications and writing skills, and an ability to network. For students who are interested in science, but not practicing science
in a traditional way, a food science career in food quality is a great way to incorporate science and education.
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Institute of Food Technologists
For more information about careers in food science, view the following websites of the Institute of Food Technologists:
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