Food technologists develop processes for manufacturing foodstuffs and related products based on chemical, physical, and biological principles and technology. They design and plan layouts or equipment, oversee staff, engage in controlling, and improve food technologies in food production processes.
The following job titles also refer to food technologist:
food technology specialist
food technology expert
food tech expert
food tech specialist
Associate’s degree is generally required to work as food technologist. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Food technologist is a Skill level 4 occupation.
Food technologist career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to food technologist.
food production engineer
food and beverage packaging technologist
prepared meals nutritionist
food production manager
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of food technologist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of food technologist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of food technologist.
Legislation about animal origin products: The applicable legal rules on temperature, waste materials, traceability, labelling, trading, and the transport of animal origin products.
Foodborne diseases: Understand foodborne illnesses and poisoning as to prevent public health problems.
Food canning production line: Steps in the canning process line from washing, conditioning and weighing food products, washing and preparing cans, filling cans, as well as other operations in order to obtain the end product.
Health, safety and hygiene legislation: The set of health, safety and hygiene standards and items of legislation applicable in a specific sector.
Food materials: Quality and range of raw materials, half finished products and end products of a specific food sector.
Food safety principles: Scientific background of food safety which includes preparation, handling, and storage of food to minimise the risk of foodborne illness and other health hazards.
Enzymatic processing: Enzymatic processes used in food production as well as in other industrial biotechnological processes.
Food toxicity: The causes of food poisoning and spoilage, and the preservation methods of food products so as to prevent toxicity from customers.
Food engineering: Research and development of new foods, biological and pharmaceutical products, development and operation of manufacturing and packaging and distributing systems for drug/food products, design and installation of food production processes.
Biotechnology: The technology that uses, modifies or harnesses biological systems, organisms and cellular components to develop new technologies and products for specific uses.
Food products composition: Chemical and nutritional composition of food products, which enables the modification of existing products and processes and the development of new ones.
Food legislation: Legislation related to the food and feed industry including food manufacturing, hygiene, safety, raw materials, additives, GMOs, labelling, environmental and trade regulations.
Food science: The study of the physical, biological, and chemical makeup of food and the scientific concepts underlying food processing and nutrition.
Fermentation processes of food: Conversion of carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process happens using bacteria or yeasts, or a combination of the two under anaerobic conditions. Food fermentation is also involved in the process of leavening bread and the process of producing lactic acid in foods such as dry sausages, sauerkraut, yogurt, pickles, and kimchi.
Combination of flavours: The large range of combinations of flavours to develop new recipes or products.
Combination of textures: The combination of textures for new recipes or products.
Ingredient threats: Ingredients and potential risks which could damage humans, the flora and the fauna. Functions in ingredient formulas.
Food storage: The proper conditions and methods to store food to keep it from spoiling, taking into account humidity, light, temperature and other environmental factors.
Risks associated to physical, chemical, biological hazards in food and beverages: Interpretation of laboratory tests for parameters affecting food safety taking into account risks associated with physical, chemical, and biological hazards in food and beverages.
Food product ingredients: Technical features of the formulation of ingredients for food products.
Food allergies: The types of food allergies within the sector, which substances trigger allergies, and how they can be replaced or eliminated (if possible).
Pathogenic microorganisms in food: The identification and characteristics of pathogenic micro-organisms in food and the adequate prevention methods to inhibit its reproduction in food materials.
Quality assurance methodologies: Quality assurance principles, standard requirements, and the set of processes and activities used for measuring, controlling and ensuring the quality of products and processes.
Chemistry: The composition, structure, and properties of substances and the processes and transformations that they undergo; the uses of different chemicals and their interactions, production techniques, risk factors, and disposal methods.
Functional properties of foods: Structure, quality, nutritional value and/or acceptability of a food product. A food functional property is determined by physical, chemical and/or organoleptic properties of a food. Examples of a functional property may include solubility, absorption, water retention, frothing ability, elasticity, and absorptive capacity for fats and foreign particles.
Food and beverage industry: The respective industry and the processes involved in the food and beverage industry, such as raw material selection, processing, packaging, and storage.
Laboratory-based sciences: Laboratory based sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, integrated science or advanced laboratory science.
Food preservation: Deterioration factors, controlling factors (temperature, additives, humidity, pH, water activity, etc., including packaging) and food processing methods to preserve food products.
Processes of foods and beverages manufacturing: Raw materials and production processes for getting finished food products. Importance of quality control and other techniques for the food and beverage industry.
Traceability in food industry: Traceability measures to respond to potential risks that can arise in food and feed, so as to ensure that all food products are safe for humans to eat.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of food technologist.
Lead process optimisation: Lead process optimisation using statistical data. Design experiments on the production line and functional process control models.
Use new technologies in food manufacturing: Keep abreast of new technologies and innovations in all fields of food manufacturing. Read articles and maintains an active exchange with peers in benefit of the company and its products.
Manage food manufacturing laboratory: Manage laboratory activities in the plant or factory and using the data to monitor the quality of manufactured products.
Translate chemical innovations in pragmatic terms: Clearly explain chemical innovations and variations made to products to the production level. Work closely with process chemists and control engineers to ensure the process plant improvements are implemented according to plan.
Improve chemical processes: Collect data required to make improvements or modifications to chemical processes. Develop new industrial processes, design new process plants/equipment or modify existing ones.
Analyse packaging requirements: Analyses packaging requirement against the design of the production plan. Perform the analysis considering engineering, economic, ergonomic, and other perspectives.
Ensure public safety and security: Implement the relevant procedures, strategies and use the proper equipment to promote local or national security activities for the protection of data, people, institutions, and property.
Collect samples for analysis: Collect samples of materials or products for laboratory analysis.
Follow-up lab results: Analyse lab results and apply them by adapting the production process. Report, review and take appropriate measures if necessary.
Apply haccp: Apply regulations regarding manufacture of food and food safety compliance. Employ food safety procedures based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).
Manage the use of additives in food manufacturing: Managing the use of additives or preservatives for food.
Analyse samples of food and beverages: Examine if food or beverages are safe for human consumption. Verify the right levels of key ingredients and the correctness of the label declarations and the levels of nutrients present. Ensure samples of food and beverages comply to specific standards or procedures.
Develop food production processes: Develop processes and techniques for food production or food preservation. Engage in the design, development, construction and operation of industrial processes and techniques for food manufacturing.
Monitor processing conditions: Observe gauges, video monitors, and printouts to assess if specified processing conditions are in place. Make the necessary adjustments to process variables such as times, inputs, flow rates and temperature settings.
Evaluate ingredient documentation from suppliers: Read, organise and evaluate documentation on ingredients from suppliers and co-manufacturers. Identify deficiencies and enquire for clarifications and corrective actions as per regulatory demands.
Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
Monitor developments used for food industry: Identifying and exploring developments and innovation in technology and materials in the food industry.
Strive for nutritional improvement of food manufacturing: Work with experts from the agricultural and food processing industries to improve food value, nutrition, and supply.
Watch food product trends: Examine findings and behaviours as to understand trends, features, or qualitative wishes of customers. Use that information for product development, for product improvement, and for packaging requirements.
Assess haccp implementation in plants: Assess the adequate implementation of HACCP in plants. Assure that plants are operating within the specifications of their written plans for HACCP, sanitation, and processing.
Read engineering drawings: Read the technical drawings of a product made by the engineer in order to suggest improvements, make models of the product or operate it.
Apply food technology principles: Food technology: a branch of food science that deals with the production processes to make foods and improve processes aimed at processing foodstuffs.
Apply requirements concerning manufacturing of food and beverages: Apply and follow national, international, and internal requirements quoted in standards, regulations and other specifications related with manufacturing of food and beverages.
Apply gmp: Apply regulations regarding manufacture of food and food safety compliance. Employ food safety procedures based on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
Prepare visual data: Prepare charts and graphs in order to present data in a visual manner.
Keep up with innovations in food manufacturing: Latest innovative products and technologies to process, preserve, package and improve food products.
Manage discarded products: Manage production stops due to insufficient product quality and manage associated waste issues within the scope of good manufacturing practices.
Identify the factors causing changes in food during storage: recognize the most relevant factors (chemical, physical, environmental etc) that can alter the food during its storage
Perform food risk analysis: Perform food risks analysis for food safety assurance.
Interpret data in food manufacturing: Interpret data from different sources, like market data, scientific papers, and customers requirements in order to research development and innovation in food sector.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of food technologist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
Cultural customs on food preparation: Cultural or religious rules and traditions regarding the preparation of food.
Effects of pesticides in food raw materials: Different types of pesticides used for food raw materials to control proper use of those substances preserving main characteristics of products.
Fermentation processes of beverages: Fermentation processes related to the conversion of sugar to alcohol, gases and acids.
Food homogenisation: The procedures, machines and reciped used to mix different foodstuffs and solutions by transforming them through high pressure and acceleration processes into an uniform fluid or product.
Food safety standards: Food safety standards (i.e. ISO 22000) developed by the recognised organisations for Standardization dealing with food safety. For example, the ISO 22000 international standard specifies the requirements for an effective food safety management system. It covers interactive communication, system management, prerequisite programs and HACCP principles.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of food technologist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
Assess nutritional characteristics of food: Assess nutritional characteristics of food for human consumption for a better healthy diet.
Keep food laboratory inventory: Monitor stocks of food analysis laboratories. Order supplies to keep laboratories well furnished.
Inspect silo systems: Inspect silo systems to minimise any harmful emissions during their use.
Develop new food products: Conduct experiments, produce sample products, and perform research as part of new food product development (NPD).
Food plant design: Contribute to food plant design by assessing the processes, facilities and equipment needs, including monitoring activities and control.
Impart training on general quality management supervision: Provide training to production employees, in groups or individually, on standard operating procedures, product specifications, visual quality inspection criteria, production controls, formulas and food safety procedures.
Operate automated process control: Operate process control or automation system (PAS) used to control a production process automatically.
Adjust production schedule: Adjust work schedule in order to maintain permanent shift operation.
Monitor ingredient storage: Monitor ingredient storage and expiry dates via weekly reporting leading to good stock rotation and reduction of waste.
Research new food ingredients: Assess new food ingredients by undergoing research activities in order to develop or improve foodstuffs.
Check the quality of raw materials at reception: Check the quality of raw materials by assessing its taste, smell, colour, or any other characteristic depending on the product.
Ensure continuous preparedness for audits: Ensure constant compliance with standards and requirements, such as keeping certifications up to date and monitoring activities to ensure correct procedures are followed, so that audits can occur smoothly and no negative aspects can be identified.
Carry out training in environmental matters: Perform staff training and ensure all members of the workforce understand how they can contribute to improved environmental performance.
Perform sensory evaluation: Evaluate the quality of a given type of food or beverage based on its appearance, smell, taste, aroma, and others. Suggest possible improvements and comparisons with other products.
Develop standard operating procedures in the food chain: Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in the food chain based on the production feedback. Understand current operating procedures and identify best techniques. Develop new procedures and update existing ones.
Detect microorganisms: Use various laboratory methods and tools such as gene amplification and sequencing to detect and identify microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi in soil, air, and water samples.
Monitor packaging operations: Observe and supervise the packaging operations undertaken by the workers for compliance to production requirements. Check products for proper packaging such as labelling and date coding in order to ensure appropriate and safe transportation.
Perform chemical experiments: Perform chemical experiments with the aim of testing various products and substances in order to draw conclusions in terms of product viability and replicability.
Configure plants for food industry: Design plants configuration, including sources and equipment for the food industry so that they can be readily adapted to suit the product range and the process technologies involved. Take environmental and economic aspects into account.
Participate as observer in different types of audits in the food sector: Participate as an observer in audits for efficiency, safety, environmental, quality, and food safety on a regular basis.
Manage communications with food industry governmental bodies: Managing communications with regulatory authorities for the food industry for all aspects of food safety, limits on potentially hazardous ingredients, labelling requirements and legislation.
Check quality of products on the production line: Check products for quality on the production line and remove defective items before and after packaging.
Perform microbiological analysis in the food chain: Perform analysis to detect different types of microorganisms, such as bacteria, moulds and yeasts in the food chain.
Identify hazards in the workplace: Perform safety audits and inspections on workplaces and workplace equipment. Ensure that they meet safety regulations and identify hazards and risks.
Analyse trends in the food and beverage industries: Investigate trends in foodstuffs related to consumers preferences. Examine key markets based on both product type and geography as well as technological improvements in the industry.
Carry out environmental audits: Use equipment to measure various environmental parameters in order to identify environmental problems and investigate manners in which they can be resolved. Perform inspections in order to ensure compliance with environmental legislation.
Ensure quality of final product: Ensure that finished products meet or exceed company specifications.
Be at ease in unsafe environments: Be at ease in unsafe environments like being exposed to dust, rotating equipment, hot surfaces, sub-freezing and cold storage areas, noise, wet floors and moving lift equipment.
Collect briefing regarding products: Collect a comprehensive brief from internal and external customers regarding specific product requirements.
Adapt production levels: Adapt current production levels and strive to improve the current production rates looking for economic gains and margins. Negotiate improvement with sales, dispatch and distribution departments.
Ensure correct goods labelling: Ensure that goods are labeled with all necessary labeling information (e.g. legal, technological, hazardous and others) regarding the product. Ensure that labels respects the legal requirements and adhere to regulations.
Participate in the development of new food products: Participate in the development of new food products together within a cross-functional team. Bring technical knowledge and perspective to the development of new products. Perform research. Interpret results for food product development.
Apply scientific methods: Apply scientific methods and techniques to investigate phenomena, by acquiring new knowledge or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.
Provide food labelling expertise: Provides food labelling expertise in the collaboration with government, company divisions, and other stakeholders on compliance related questions regarding products and labels.
Assess food samples: Assess samples from a range of sources to draw analyses. For example, microorganisms detection, chemical analysis, and parasitological analysis.
Plan shifts of employees: Plans shifts of employees to ensure completion of all customer orders and satisfactory completion of the production plan.
Coordinate launches of new food products: Coordinate launches of new food products. Run trials alongside with product development.
Perform physico-chemical analysis to food materials: Performs a range of physical and chemical analysis to food materials in order to assess their quality.
Follow laboratory manuals: Follow laboratory manuals, documents with industry jargon, phrases and diagrams, allowing a quality controller to easily read and interpret these documents.
Manage scale-up experiments for manufacturing of products: Manage scale-up processes and experimentation in the development of new products or the improvement of existing ones and subsequent transfer to main plant.
Monitor the production line: Monitor the production line for problems such as pile-ups and jams.
Perform food safety checks: Carry out food safety checks in order to assure compliance with requirements, regulations, and other good food manufacturing practices.
Advocate for consumer matters in production plants: Conduct regulatory oversight activities inside plants in matters relating to areas of consumer matters, e.g. misbranding, consumer protection, etc.
Manage environmental management system: Develop and implement an environmental management system.
Create new recipes: Combine innovative and creative ideas to come up with new recipes and preparations to extend the product of range of a company. Make modifications to recipes in order to enhance taste, reach productivity goals, develop and improve products.
Assess quality characteristics of food products: Assess quality characteristics of food products in terms of the main properties (e.g. physical, sensorial, chemical, technological, etc.) for raw materials, half-finished products, as well as finish products.
Assess shelf life of food products: Assess the shelf life of food products in a range of storage and packaging conditions.
Mitigate waste of resources: Evaluate and identify opportunities to use resources more efficiently with continuously striving to reduce waste of utilities.
Assess ergonomics of the workplace: Assess ergonomics of the workplace in relation to the human resources.
Perform quality audits: Execute regular, systematic and documented examinations of a quality system for verifying conformity with a standard based on objective evidence such as the implementation of processes, effectiveness in achieving quality goals and reduction and elimination of quality problems.
Select adequate packaging for food products: Choose the appropriate packages for food products taking into account attractiveness and suitability of the package. Use proper packaging for sending it safely and at a reasonable cost. Have awareness that packaging can also influence the product characteristics such as shape, weight or solidity. Balance out various aspects such as cost, attractivity and compliance with regulations and environment protection.
Apply control process statistical methods: Apply statistical methods from Design of Experiments (DOE) and Statistical Process Control (SPC) in order to control manufacturing processes.
Analyse production processes for improvement: Analyse production processes leading toward improvement. Analyse in order to reduce production losses and overall manufacturing costs.
Research new cooking methods: Assess new cooking methods by undergoing research activities in order to develop or improve food technological processes.
Ensure compliance with environmental legislation in food production: Make sure to comply with environmental legislation in food production. Understand the legislation related to environmental matters in food manufacturing and apply it in practice.
Keep up-to-date with regulations: Maintain up-to-date knowledge of current regulations and apply this knowledge in specific sectors.
Manage packaging development cycle from concept to launch: Manage the packaging development cycle from concept to launch in order to ensure compliance with financial, operative, and commercial variables.
ISCO group and title
2145 – Chemical engineers
- Food technologist – ESCO