Food science

Food science is the science of nature devoted to the study of food; it is often confused with "food technology". 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".[1] 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".[2]

Activities of food technologists 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 survey panels or potential consumers, as well as microbiological and chemical testing.[3] 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 chemistry, physics, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry... Food technology incorporates concepts from chemical engineering, for example.

Food Science and Technology
A food science laboratory
Food Science and Technology-3
Machinery at a food science laboratory
CSIRO ScienceImage 1319 Food Science Australia
Food scientists working in Australia


Some of the subdisciplines of food science are described below.

Food chemistry

Food chemistry is the study of chemical processes and interactions of all biological and non-biological components of foods.[4][5] The biological substances include such items as meat, poultry, lettuce, beer, and milk as examples. It is similar to biochemistry in its main components such as carbohydrates, lipids, and protein, but it also includes areas such as water, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, food additives, flavors, and colors. This discipline also encompasses how products change under certain food processing techniques and ways either to enhance or to prevent them from happening.

Food physical chemistry

Food physical chemistry is 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

Factory Automation Robotics Palettizing Bread
A pizza factory in Germany, an example of food engineering

Food engineering is the industrial processes used to manufacture food.

Food microbiology

Food microbiology is the study of the microorganisms that inhabit, create, or contaminate food, including the study of microorganisms causing food spoilage.[6] "Good" bacteria, however, such as probiotics, are becoming increasingly important in food science.[7][8][9] In addition, microorganisms are essential for the production of foods such as cheese, yogurt, bread, beer, wine and, other fermented foods.

Food packaging

Food packaging in progress

Food preservation

Food preservation involves the causes and prevention of quality spoilage

Food substitution

Food substitution refers to the replacement of fat, sugar, or calories from a product while maintaining similar shape, texture, color, or taste.

Food technology

Food technology is the technological aspects. Early scientific research into food technology concentrated on food preservation. Nicolas Appert’s development in 1810 of the canning process was a decisive event. The process wasn’t called canning then and Appert did not really know the principle on which his process worked, but canning has had a major impact on food preservation techniques.

Molecular gastronomy

Molecular gastronomy is the scientific investigation of processes in cooking, social and artistic gastronomical phenomena.[10] Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking. Its program includes three axis, as cooking was recognized to have three components, which are social, artistic and technical.

New product development

New product development includes the invention of new food products.

Quality control

A technician performing quality control

Quality control involves the causes, prevention and communication dealing with food-borne illness.

Quality control also ensures that product meets specs to ensure the customer receives what they expect from the packaging to the physical properties of the product itself.

Sensory analysis

Sensory analysis is the study of how consumers' senses perceive food.

By country


The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia. CSIRO maintains more than 50 sites across Australia and biological control research stations in France and Mexico. It has nearly 6,500 employees.

South Korea

The Korean Society of Food Science and Technology, or KoSFoST, claims to be the first society in South Korea for food science.[11]

United States

In the United States, food science is typically studied at land-grant universities. Many of the country's pioneering food scientists were women who had attended chemistry programs at land-grant universities (which were state-run and largely under state mandates to allow for sex-blind admission), but then graduated and had difficulty finding jobs due to widespread sexism in the chemistry industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Finding conventional career paths blocked, they found alternative employment as instructors in home economics departments and used that as a base to launch the foundation of many modern food science programs.

The main US organization regarding food science and food technology is the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, which is the US member organisation of the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST).

See also



Popular books on some aspects of food science or kitchen science have been written by Harold McGee and Howard Hillman, among others.


Notes and references

  1. ^ Heldman, Dennis R. "IFT and the Food Science Profession." Food Technology. October 2006. p. 11.
  2. ^ Potter, Norman N.; Hotchkiss, Joseph H. (1998). Food Science. Food science texts series (5th ed.). Springer. ISBN 9780834212657.
  3. ^ "Food Science Activity Guides". Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  4. ^ John M. de Man.1999. Principles of Food Chemistry (Food Science Text Series), Springer Science, Third Edition
  5. ^ John M. de Man. 2009. Food process engineering and technology, Academic Press, Elsevier: London and New York, 1st edn.
  6. ^ Fratamico PM and Bayles DO (editor). (2005). Foodborne Pathogens: Microbiology and Molecular Biology. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-00-4.
  7. ^ Tannock GW (editor). (2005). Probiotics and Prebiotics: Scientific Aspects. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-01-1.
  8. ^ Ljungh A, Wadstrom T (editors) (2009). Lactobacillus Molecular Biology: From Genomics to Probiotics. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-41-7.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Mayo, B; van Sinderen, D (editor) (2010). Bifidobacteria: Genomics and Molecular Aspects. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-68-4.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ H. This, Molecular Gastronomy, Columbia University Press
  11. ^ "Korean Society of Food Science and Technology (KoSFoST)". KoSFoST. Retrieved 11 December 2016.

Further reading

External links


Caramelization is the browning of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting sweet nutty flavor and brown colour. The brown colours are produced by three groups of polymers: caramelans (C24H36O18), caramelens (C36H50O25), and caramelins (C125H188O80). As the process occurs, volatile chemicals such as diacetyl are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor.Like the Maillard reaction, caramelization is a type of non-enzymatic browning. However, unlike the Maillard reaction, caramelization is pyrolytic, as opposed to being a reaction with amino acids.

When caramelization involves the disaccharide sucrose, it is broken down into the monosaccharides fructose and glucose.


An extract is a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material, often by using a solvent such as ethanol or water. Extracts may be sold as tinctures, absolutes or in powder form.

The aromatic principles of many spices, nuts, herbs, fruits, etc., and some flowers, are marketed as extracts, among the best known of true extracts being almond, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, lemon, nutmeg, orange, peppermint, pistachio, rose, spearmint, vanilla, violet, rum, and wintergreen.

Fermentation in food processing

Fermentation in food processing is the process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms—yeasts or bacteria—under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation usually implies that the action of microorganisms is desired. The science of fermentation is known as zymology or zymurgy.

The term fermentation sometimes refers specifically to the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol, producing alcoholic drinks such as wine, beer, and cider. However, similar processes take place in the leavening of bread (CO2 produced by yeast activity), and in the preservation of sour foods with the production of lactic acid, such as in sauerkraut and yogurt.

Other widely consumed fermented foods include vinegar, olives, and cheese. More localised foods prepared by fermentation may also be based on beans, grain, vegetables, fruit, honey, dairy products, fish, meat, or tea.

Food additive

Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste, appearance, or other qualities. Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as with wines. With the advent of processed foods in the second half of the twentieth century, many more additives have been introduced, of both natural and artificial origin. Food additives also include substances that may be introduced to food indirectly (called "indirect additives") in the manufacturing process, through packaging, or during storage or transport.

Food engineering

Food engineering is a multidisciplinary field which combines microbiology, applied physical sciences, chemistry and engineering for food and related industries. Food engineering includes, but is not limited to, the application of agricultural engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering principles to food materials. Food engineers provide the technological knowledge transfer essential to the cost-effective production and commercialization of food products and services. Physics, chemistry, and mathematics are fundamental to understanding and engineering products and operations in the food industry.Food engineering encompasses a wide range of activities. Food engineers are employed in food processing, food machinery, packaging, ingredient manufacturing, instrumentation, and control. Firms that design and build food processing plants, consulting firms, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and health-care firms also employ food engineers. Specific food engineering activities include:

drug/food products;

design and installation of food/biological/pharmaceutical production processes;

design and operation of environmentally responsible waste treatment systems;

marketing and technical support for manufacturing plants.

Food processing

Food processing is the transformation of agricultural products into food, or of one form of food into other forms. Food processing includes many forms of processing foods, from grinding grain to make raw flour to home cooking to complex industrial methods used to make convenience foods.

Primary food processing is necessary to make most foods edible, and secondary food processing turns the ingredients into familiar foods, such as bread.

Tertiary food processing has been criticized for promoting overnutrition and obesity, containing too much sugar and salt, too little fiber, and otherwise being unhealthful.

Food technology

Food technology is a branch of food science that deals with the production processes that make foods.

Early scientific research into food technology concentrated on food preservation. Nicolas Appert’s development in 1810 of the canning process was a decisive event. The process wasn’t called canning then and Appert did not really know the principle on which his process worked, but canning has had a major impact on food preservation techniques.

Louis Pasteur's research on the spoilage of wine and his description of how to avoid spoilage in 1864 was an early attempt to apply scientific knowledge to food handling. Besides research into wine spoilage, Pasteur researched the production of alcohol, vinegar, wines and beer, and the souring of milk. He developed pasteurization—the process of heating milk and milk products to destroy food spoilage and disease-producing organisms. In his research into food technology, Pasteur became the pioneer into bacteriology and of modern preventive medicine.

Homogenization (chemistry)

Homogenization or homogenisation is any of several processes used to make a mixture of two mutually non-soluble liquids the same throughout. This is achieved by turning one of the liquids into a state consisting of extremely small particles distributed uniformly throughout the other liquid. A typical example is the homogenization of milk, where the milk fat globules are reduced in size and dispersed uniformly through the rest of the milk.

International Union of Food Science and Technology

The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) ( EYE-yoo-fost) is the global scientific organization and voice for food science and technology representing more than 200,000 food scientists and technologists from over 70 countries. It is a voluntary, non-profit association of national food science organizations. IUFoST is a full scientific member of the established in 1962, devoted to the advancement of, one of only 31 scientific unions worldwide and the only global representative of food science and technology to notable organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), CODEX Alimentarius and International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI).


In materials science, liquefaction is a process that generates a liquid from a solid or a gas or that generates a non-liquid phase which behaves in accordance with fluid dynamics.

It occurs both naturally and artificially. As an example of the latter, a "major commercial application of liquefaction is the liquefaction of air to allow separation of the constituents, such as oxygen, nitrogen, and the noble gases." Another is the conversion of solid coal into a liquid form usable as a substitute for liquid fuels.

Molecular gastronomy

Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking. Its program includes three areas, as cooking was recognized to have three components: social, artistic, and technical. Molecular cuisine is a modern style of cooking, and takes advantage of many technical innovations from the scientific disciplines.

The term "molecular gastronomy" was coined in 1988 by late Oxford physicist Nicholas Kurti and the French INRA chemist Hervé This. Some chefs associated with the term choose to reject its use.


A nutraceutical is a pharmaceutical- and standardized nutrient. In the US, "nutraceuticals" do not exist as a regulatory category; they are regulated as dietary supplements and food additives by the FDA under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Nutritional genomics

Nutritional genomics, also known as nutrigenomics, is a science studying the relationship between human genome, nutrition and health. People in the field work toward developing an understanding of how the whole body responds to a food via systems biology, as well as single gene/single food compound relationships.

Packaging gas

A packaging gas is used to pack sensitive materials such as food into a modified atmosphere environment. The gas used is usually inert, or of a nature that protects the integrity of the packaged goods, inhibiting unwanted chemical reactions such as food spoilage or oxidation. Some may also serve as a propellant for aerosol sprays like cans of whipped cream. For packaging food, the use of various gases is approved by regulatory organisations.Their E numbers are included in the following lists in parentheses.


Pasteurization or pasteurisation is a process in which certain packaged and non-packaged foods (such as milk and fruit juice) are treated with mild heat, usually less than 100 °C (212 °F), to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf life. The process is intended to stabilize foods by destroying or inactivating organisms and enzymes that contribute to spoilage, including vegetative bacteria but not bacterial spores. Since Pasteurization is not sterilization, and does not kill spores, a second "double" pasteurization will extend the quality by killing spores that have germinated.

The process was named after the French scientist Louis Pasteur, whose research in the 1880s demonstrated that thermal processing would inactivate unwanted microorganisms in wine. Spoilage enzymes are also inactivated during pasteurization. Today, pasteurization is used widely in the dairy industry and other food processing industries to achieve food preservation and food safety.Most liquid products are heat treated in a continuous system where heat can be applied using a plate heat exchanger and/or the direct or indirect use of hot water and steam. Due to the mild heat, there are minor changes to the nutritional quality and sensory characteristics of the treated foods. Pascalization or high pressure processing (HPP) and pulsed electric field (PEF) are non-thermal processes that are also used to pasteurize foods.

Phytic acid

Phytic acid (known as inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6), inositol polyphosphate, or phytate when in salt form) is the phosphate ester of inositol. It contains six phosphate groups. At physiological pH, these phosphates are partially ionized. The resulting anion is a colorless species that has significant nutritional role as the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially bran and seeds. It is also present in many legumes, cereals, and grains. Phytic acid has a strong binding affinity to the dietary minerals, calcium, iron, and zinc, inhibiting their absorption.Catabolites of phytic acid are called lower inositol polyphosphates. Examples are inositol penta- (IP5), tetra- (IP4), and triphosphate (IP3).


Putrefaction is the fifth stage of death, following pallor mortis, algor mortis, rigor mortis, and livor mortis. This process references the breaking down of a body of a human or animal post-mortem (meaning after death). In broad terms, it can be viewed as the decomposition of proteins, and the eventual breakdown of the cohesiveness between tissues, and the liquefaction of most organs. This is caused by the decomposition of organic matter by bacterial or fungal digestion, which causes the release of gases that infiltrate the body's tissues, and leads to the deterioration of the tissues and organs.

The approximate time it takes putrefaction to occur is dependent on various factors. Internal factors that affect the rate of putrefaction include the age at which death has occurred, the overall structure and condition of the body, the cause of death, and external injuries arising before or after death. External factors include environmental temperature, moisture and air exposure, clothing, burial factors, and light exposure.

The first signs of putrefaction are signified by a greenish discoloration on the outside of the skin on the abdominal wall corresponding to where the large intestine begins, as well as under the surface of the liver.

Certain substances, such as carbolic acid, arsenic, strychnine, and zinc chloride, can be used to delay the process of putrefaction in various ways based on their chemical make up.

Body farms are facilities which study the process of human decomposition as well as how environmental factors affect the rate of putrefaction.


Rancidity is the complete or incomplete oxidation or hydrolysis of fats and oils when exposed to air, light, or moisture or by bacterial action, resulting in unpleasant taste and odor. Specifically, it is the hydrolysis or autoxidation of fats into short-chain aldehydes and ketones, which are objectionable in taste and odor. When these processes occur in food, undesirable odors and flavors can result. In certain cases, however, the flavors can be desirable (as in aged cheeses). In processed meats, these flavors are collectively known as warmed-over flavor. Rancidification can also detract from the nutritional value of food, as some vitamins are sensitive to oxidation. Similar to rancidification, oxidative degradation also occurs in other hydrocarbons, such as lubricating oils, fuels, and mechanical cutting fluids.

Retort pouch

A retort pouch or retortable pouch is a type of food packaging made from a laminate of flexible plastic and metal foils. It allows the sterile packaging of a wide variety of food and drink handled by aseptic processing, and is used as an alternative to traditional industrial canning methods. Packaged foods range from water to fully cooked, thermo-stabilized (heat-treated) high-caloric (1,300 kcal on average) meals such as Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) which can be eaten cold, warmed by submersing in hot water, or through the use of a flameless ration heater, a meal component introduced by the military in 1992. Retort pouches are used in field rations, space food, fish productscamping food, instant noodles, and brands such as Capri Sun and Tasty Bite.

Some varieties have a bottom gusset and are known as Stand-Up Pouches.

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