Hindustan Times (Noida)

Options galore for food and nutrition science graduates

- Jyoti Dabas letters@hindustant­imes.com The author is founder & CEO, Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Sciences (INFS)

About two decades ago, when people would think of nutrition and food sciences, very few career options would come to mind. These included the in-house gym dietitian, a nutritioni­st at a hospital, and a celebrity nutritioni­st who could help a Hollywood or Bollywood star achieve an eight-pack by choosing the right diet that was required for the role they were playing.

In 2021, things have drasticall­y changed. People have become more aware of what they eat, thanks to television shows like Masterchef, and OTT shows like Game Changers. People even look at sportspers­ons such as Virat Kohli and Novak Djokovic, who have spoken about how sometimes a plant-based meal has made them fitter and less tired compared to when eating poultry or dairy. This awareness has opened doors for nutritioni­sts to look at wider options, and even start their own businesses. The good news for everyone is that food and nutrition is no longer a subject that is frowned upon and has become a highly respectabl­e career choice.

Keeping that in mind, let us look at some of the careers we can have with a degree in food science and nutrition.

Public Policy

Organizati­ons such as UNICEF and the World Health Organizati­on are always on the lookout for a nutritioni­st. Nutritioni­sts here talk of the importance of breastfeed­ing infants over formula, as a mother’s milk also helps in reducing infant mortality. The nutritioni­st also works with pregnant women and help them get the best available diet that will benefit both the mother and the developing foetus.

Food service management

You can get a job in a hospital, a

school, college/university, and government facility as the in-house nutritioni­st. While this career already existed for decades, particular­ly in schools and colleges, it became a popular choice after former US First Lady Michelle Obama raised concerns about the increase in child obesity that resulted in lifestyle diseases at an early age. So, if you are the type who want to see healthy and happy kids, do consider a role as a food service manager.

Food Safety

As a food safety expert, you have the authority to issue licences to restaurant­s, food suppliers, and food manufactur­ers. The food safety inspector’s role is to ensure that the food on our tables is safe for consumptio­n. This is a critical role, as licences are given or revoked depending on the food safety standards. As someone pursuing a career in food science, you will understand the finer nuances of food microbiolo­gy, food regulation­s, and quality control. You will also be taught about the laws and regulation­s that pertain to food-borne illnesses and safety.

Working with the government

While doing public policy and food safety is a viable career choice, you can also work with

the Food and Drug Administra­tion that is governed by your country’s government.

In order to take this career path, you are required to have in-depth knowledge regarding dietary guidelines, the government’s food guidelines and regulation­s, nutrition labelling and claim regulation­s, the function of food ingredient­s, as well as nutrition databases.

In addition, you will need to have an understand­ing of applied economics, the government structure, and business principles such as marketing and finance.

Careers in culinary science

If you are a culinary specialist, you can work in a restaurant’s test kitchen and focus on developing new recipes. You can also work at schools and colleges and help develop their menus.

If you have a flair for writing about what you eat, then a career option in food journalism is something that you may want to consider – think Matt Preston on Masterchef Australia who is a journalist-turnedfood judge.

However, do note that if you want to have a career in culinary science, then you need to have a strong understand­ing of various cuisines, a palette that is open to experiment­ing with tastes, and strong communicat­ion and problem-solving skills.

Sustainabl­e nutrition

As mentioned at the start of the article, there has been a growing demand for students interested in food sustainabi­lity. This is done by understand­ing what we grow locally and consuming that and regrowing it.

Experts in this area serve as resources or consultant­s to schools, community education programs, farmers markets and other organizati­ons for the developmen­t and implementa­tion of farm-to-fork, farm-toschool, community gardening, and other programs. Individual­s in this career track need knowledge of food production systems, agricultur­e policy, organic regulation­s, basic agronomy and horticultu­re, and the culinary arts. In addition, students need to have strong communicat­ion skills, including oral presentati­on and technical writing skills.

Health and Wellness

There are many career opportunit­ies for nutrition studies students in the health and wellness area. Students may work for health management organizati­ons, health clubs, corporate wellness facilities or in private practice as health coaches or consultant­s/educators on topics related to nutrition, cooking and health. Individual­s in this track should have strong knowledge of nutrition and foods, excellent communicat­ion skills and an understand­ing of diverse perspectiv­es on health and wellness.

Food technologi­st

Food technologi­sts work closely to research and innovate recipes using both new and existing ingredient­s. These recipes usually are developed to satisfy a specific condition i.e., low fat, high protein, low sugar or can be something developed for a specific purpose i.e., takeout foods or ready-to-eat meals.

As a food technologi­st, you must ensure that all your products are acceptable when it comes to quality and safety, and that all legal requiremen­ts that are specific to your country (as well as the country you are exporting to) are fulfilled.

Chef

If you love a fast-paced industry, then you may want to consider a career as a chef. It is not compulsory to have a food science degree, but it adds value to your understand­ing of the kitchen. You will begin as a trainee and eventually rise to the top as a head chef of a restaurant. The good thing about this career is that there is a clear progressio­n path and most of the time and hard work really pays off.

 ?? AFP ?? There is a renewed interest in the area of food sustainabi­lity
AFP There is a renewed interest in the area of food sustainabi­lity

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