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Food technologist: Job description

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Case studies

Food technologists ensure food products are produced safely, legally and are of the quality claimed. The role is varied and dependent on what area of the industry you enter. For example, manufacturing technologists have a more practical role and work on day-to-day issues as well as long-term projects directly with the production and factory teams. Retail technologists, however, deal with many manufacturers and work with their manufacturers' technical teams to solve issues and on projects.

Food technologists can get involved in developing the manufacturing processes and recipes of food and drink products. They may work on existing and newly discovered ingredients and technologies to invent new recipes and concepts, as well as modify foods to create, for example, fat-free products and ready meals. They often work closely with the product development teams to help deliver factory ready recipes based on the development kitchen samples.

Some food technologists are involved in conducting experiments and producing sample products, as well as designing the processes and machinery for making products with a consistent flavour, colour and texture in large quantities. This must be done within a strict and ever-changing regulatory framework around the treatment of foodstuffs. For this reason, technologists are responsible for keeping up-to-date with relevant legislation.

The work may also involve building relationships with suppliers and customers, as well as ensuring products are profitable.

Typical work activities

Activities vary depending on the type of employer, area of work, e.g. manufacturing, retail or public sector, and area of specialism. However, tasks may include:

  • modifying existing products and processes and developing new ones;
  • checking and improving quality control procedures in your own and suppliers' factories, from the raw material stage through to the finished product;
  • researching current consumer markets and latest technologies to develop new product concepts;
  • selecting raw materials and other ingredients from suppliers;
  • preparing product costings based on raw materials and manufacturing costs to ensure profitable products;
  • addressing issues of safety and quality;
  • auditing suppliers or managing internal audits;
  • helping prepare and/or leading external site audits;
  • coordinating launches of new products or running trials alongside/together with product development;
  • dealing with any customer complaint investigations or product issues;
  • implementing and managing the site quality management system;
  • reviewing end-to-end supply chains;
  • compiling/checking/approving product specifications and labelling;
  • undertaking long-term projects with other departments, e.g. reducing waste by improving efficiency;
  • working on packaging innovation and technology;
  • reviewing food supply, security and sustainability.

In food manufacturing, the work may also involve:

  • carrying out process support and development, new product development and quality control;
  • developing the ability to repeat processes to ensure consistency and safety;
  • liaising and cooperating with technical and commercial colleagues in procurement, sales and technical services, and marketing and distribution, and also with official food inspection and hygiene agencies (this takes up a considerable proportion of time on the manufacturing side);
  • working with engineering/production to develop solutions to production issues whilst maintaining food safety;
  • conducting internal audits of factory systems and protocols.

In retailing, typical work activities include:

  • working with suppliers on quality issues and new product ideas;
  • managing the safety, legality and quality of food produced. 

In the public sector, the work can involve:

  • carrying out administration and devising policy for government departments;
  • implementing enforcement roles in local authority environmental health departments.

Have you considered these other jobs?

Written by AGCAS editors
September 2012

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