The Daily Collegian –May 11, 1994
Food Science Letter-A Dream Come True
To the editor:
When I tell people that I am a food science major, the first question they ask is “are you a nutritionist?” Food Science is one of the smallest and least understood majors on this campus. I am graduating in two weeks, and for the past two years I have been planning to write an article about this terrific field that nobody knows anything about. Now this dream has become a reality and the article is actually being written.
First, I want everyone to know that I do not study nutrition, HRTS, food service, cooking or meat stamping. I do study chemistry, calculus, physics, biochemistry and microbiology. Food science, like like environmental or polymer science, is an applied science. Students in the program take all the basic pre-med classes in their first two years, and in the last two years take classes in food microbiology, food chemistry, food processing and food engineering. We learn how to analyze foods for microorganisms, how to find out what the chemical structure of a food is, how to freeze-dry coffee and how to package food. The food industry is huge. Every day new products are coming out, and for food companies it is a competitive business. They hire food scientists to invent new products and make sure they are safe. Many activities go on behind the scenes in a food company that the average consumer does not know about.
There are many questions that must be answered before a new product goes on the market. Is it microbiologically safe? How long is its shelf life? Will it stay crunchy in milk? What kind of packaging should be used? It is important that the food scientist knows all about food, its chemical components and how it interacts with the environment.
The Umass department of food science is considered one of the best in the United States. We have many well-known professors who are involved in cutting edge research. The classes are small (usually 8-14 people per lecture), and there is lots of interaction between the professors and the students.
This is a great field to get into, and I just don’t understand why there are so few undergraduates in the department. It is one of the few fields that has guaranteed job placement after graduation. I have a friend who works for Veryfine Juices, and other people in my department have worked for Nestle, Nabisco, Kraft, Ocean Spray and General Mills.
So if you like science and you like food, maybe this is the field for you. One great thing about our department is that food companies often come to recruit students, and they always leave us with free food and samples to eat! The American food supply is one of the safest and cheapest in the world, and it is the food science and technology that has helped create and keep it this way.
Rachel B. Zemser
Senior, food science