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Career Connections: Food Scientist

6 minutes

(Describer) Beside four different-size different-color circles connected by lines, title: Career Connections.

(Describer) Title: Food Scientist.

(female narrator) While in high school, Jim Jasko wanted to go into research. I didn't know it would be food research. I wanted to be discovering something new. That excited me.

(narrator) He took chemistry classes and got a degree in chemistry from Baldwin Wallace University, leading to his career as a food scientist. Food scientist's responsibility is to formulate new food products using ingredients that exist or ingredients that have to be created in order to make a product function.

(narrator) Jim says the food industry is competitive with product development. You can see that in the grocery store.

(Jasko) Consumers are driving the health-and-wellness part of the food industry, which is why you've got Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and places that are focused on all natural ingredients, things that are grown locally that are put into food products, and that is a big driving force today.

(narrator) These trends help determine what kind of products food scientists will develop.

(Jasko) It's a difficult challenge. They're always sourcing new ingredients. If you go the organic route, you must find natural organic ingredients in order to formulate.

(narrator) Another challenge is making the product consistent, regardless of scale.

(Jasko) Food scientists develop formulas that can be duplicated to make a million units of the same thing over and over and over again very consistently. There's another part of food science and technology that's involved with quality control, quality assurance, food safety, and those things are all critical to getting a successful product out into the market.

(narrator) Jim says are an unlimited number of careers under the food science and technology umbrella.

(Jasko) Typically, the business is based on product development, but a lot of support goes into making a good product, and those are all technical positions.

(narrator) He says to be a food scientist, you need a college degree, most likely in science.

(Jasko) Chemistry, biology, biochemistry, microbiology-- scientific degrees that are the basis for what we do. From that basis, you develop experience to support the development of new products, to support the quality of new products, and also to identify ingredients that are gonna function properly in new products.

(narrator) Typically, food scientists work in a lab environment in research-and-development organizations.

(Jasko) The research part of it is the looking for the scientific evidence of something that works. The development part of it is taking that and putting it into a finished food product.

(narrator) He says some small companies have just one scientist, while large companies may have hundreds. Some people have more advanced degrees and study specific ingredients, like Jim's friend at Heinz, who has a PhD and specializes in tomatoes. They have to be able to make ketchup in any part of the world given what the tomatoes are in that region. He sources those tomatoes to make sure that a ketchup in India tastes like a ketchup in the United States. Heinz! [sighs]

(Describer) In a TV commercial from India...

And don't forget biscuit, eh? Okay.

(Describer) ...a woman talks on the phone. Title: Takes a while to come out.

(narrator) According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a food scientist makes, on average, $66,870 a year. There's plenty of opportunity for advancement according to Jim, especially in certain areas, like working in flavor chemistry. Flavor chemistry is one of those scientific disciplines where you can advance. If you become a principal flavorist at a flavor company, they command upper six-figure salaries because of what they bring to the party. They're in demand, because they know how to tweak flavors, manipulate flavors and get the end result that companies are looking for.

(narrator) Jim says students interested in the field of food science can start preparing by taking science classes like chemistry and biology and focusing on statistically-oriented math classes. Because there's a lot of statistics involved in the product development side and the processing side. They must be able analyze what they're making and make sure there's nothing wrong with it.

(narrator) One thing should motivate you if you're interested in food science. If you don't have a passion for food, don't go into this industry, because it's not for you. You gotta have a passion for food.

(Describer) Titles: For more information, visit OhioMeansJobs.com. Western Reserve Public Media. Copyright 2015. Funding to purchase and make this educational program accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Department of Education by telephone at 1-800-USA-LEARN, or online at www.ed.gov.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

PH:1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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Meet a food scientist who overcame his fear of chemistry, and now conducts experiments with vegetables. Part of the "Career Connections" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 6 minutes

Career Connections
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 2
6 minutes
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Episode 3
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Episode 4
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Episode 5
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Episode 8
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Episode 9
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