Course:FNH200/Lessons/Lesson 01/Page 01.1

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01.1 What is the Definition of Food Science?

Foods, as such, are complex systems subject to many forms of changes, including biochemical, nutritional, physical and/or sensory changes. The multidisciplinary science known as food science is used to pull together the wide range of knowledge that deals with food.

Food Science can be defined as the application of the principles of science, engineering, and mathematics in order to study and acquire new knowledge on the physical, chemical and biochemical nature of foods. Food science is a broad field that is composed of specializations in food microbiology, food chemistry, and food engineering. Food science also involves the study of sensory properties of food, and therefore, the psychology of food choice. From the information gathered by food science, the corresponding technologies can be applied to the utilization, processing, preservation and storage of food. This is known as food technology.

Here is a brief explanation of the main components (sub-fields) of Food Science(adapted from Potter and Hotchkiss, 1995):

  • Food Chemistry: deals with the composition, structure and properties of food, as well as the chemistry of changes that occur during processing.
  • Food Analysis: covers the principles and methods for quantitative physical and chemical analyses of food products and ingredients. These analyses are related to the standards and regulations for food processing.
  • Food Microbiology: relates to the study of microbial ecology in relation to food, the effect of environment on food spoilage and food manufacture, the physical, chemical, and biological destruction of microorganisms in food, the microbiological examination of food stuffs, and public health and sanitation microbiology.
  • Food Processing: covers the principles of food preservation and the general characteristics of raw food materials, processing factors that influence quality, packaging, waste management, good manufacturing practices, and sanitation procedures.
  • Food Engineering: relates to the study and application of engineering concepts and unit operations used in food processing. Engineering principles include material and energy balances, thermodynamics, fluid flow, and heat and mass transfer.

Are Food Science and Nutrition the same?

"the difference between food science and nutrition is that nutrition deals with the effects of foods in the person who consumes them, while food science is concerned with the study of the chemical, microbiological, physical, and sensory properties of foods and their ingredients during processing, manufacture, and storage." Murano (2003)