Food Science is the discipline in which biology, chemistry, microbiology, physical sciences, and engineering are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of their deterioration, and the principles underlying food processing. Food Technology is the application of food science to the selection, preservation, processing, packaging, distribution, and use of safe, nutritious, and wholesome food.
A food scientist studies the physical, microbiological, and chemical makeup of food. Depending on the area of specialization, Food Scientists may develop ways to process, preserve, package, or store food, according to industry and government specifications and regulations. Food science and technology is the key to the conversion of raw agricultural materials into a wide variety of properly processed and preserved foods.
The FST program at Virginia Tech offers four options: Science, Food Business, Food and Health, and Food and Beverage Fermentation.
The Food Science and Technology major prepares students to apply the principles of science and engineering to better understand the complex and heterogeneous materials recognized as food. There is a great demand in the food industry and in government for highly knowledgeable and competent food scientists. Opportunities for food scientists include food safety, food quality control, food product development, production management, technical sales and service, ingredient management, research, and teaching. Students completing the science or food and health option requirements will also be prepared for graduate and professional schools of medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine.
The food industry also utilizes the technical training of the food scientist in many ways, such as: research and development, manufacturing and production, technical sales and service, management, quality control, inspection services with state or federal government, technical writing, teaching, and consulting work.
The Department of Food Science and Technology is listed by the national Institute of Food Technologists as one of 50 departments in universities of the United States and Canada offering programs in food science and technology.
The department offers a minor (please consult a department representative for requirements), as well as a double-major option in Food Science and Technology to students in all other colleges of the university. Food Science and Technology students may also participate in the Cooperative Education Program.