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.
Food science brings together multiple scientific disciplines. It incorporates concepts from fields such as microbiology, chemical engineering, and biochemistry.
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