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Food technologist: Job description

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Food technologists make sure food products are produced safely, legally and are of the quality claimed. They can be involved in developing the manufacturing processes and recipes of food and drink products and may work on existing and newly discovered ingredients to invent new recipes and concepts.

Technologists modify foods to create products such as fat-free items 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 involve building relationships with suppliers and customers, as well as ensuring products are profitable.

Typical work activities

The job can 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 safety and 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;
  • auditing suppliers or managing internal audits;
  • coordinating launches of new products or running trials alongside/together with product development;
  • dealing with any customer complaint investigations or product issues;
  • 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.

In food manufacturing, the work may also involve:

  • developing the ability to repeat processes to ensure consistency and safety;
  • liaising with technical and commercial colleagues in procurement, sales and technical services, and marketing and distribution, and 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.

In retailing, additional tasks 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.

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Written by AGCAS editors
August 2014

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