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What to expect when applying for food science jobs in the UK

6 min read
AUTHOR: Food Matters Live
Female laboratory technician verifies the quality of vegetables

Food science is a hugely varied field within the food and beverage industry. Those in food science careers can expect to spend their time developing a thorough understanding of the physical, biological, and chemical aspects of food, including its production, processing, preservation, and safety. 

Developments within chemistry, microbiology, and engineering fields are subsequently used to solve problems related to food production and consumption, and to innovate new and existing foods. 

This means contributing to the development of new products and techniques, enhancing flavours, increasing longevity and shelf-life, making food more sustainable to produce, and more nutritious.

This guide explains the different types of food science jobs available in the UK and their responsibilities.

Jobs you can expect in food science

The interdisciplinary nature of food science allows for varied roles, with professionals in this field working on product development, quality assurance, food safety, innovation, and more. 

From researching new ingredients and conducting sensory evaluations to ensuring regulatory compliance and optimising processing techniques, careers within food science offer the chance to work across a blend of scientific and practical roles.

Food Technologist

Working as a food technologist requires developing new and improved food and beverage products. 

It can involve innovating recipes for products already on the market to make them more flavourful, nutritious, or sustainable. Food technologists also produce brand new products – ensuring their safety, quality, and compliance with regulatory requirements to guarantee they are fit for mass sale. 

Food technologists typically work within research and development labs, conducting testing on ingredients, analysing nutritional content, and finding new ways to optimise methods of processing products. 

Typical responsibilities include:

  • Researching and developing new food products and formulations
  • Conducting shelf-life studies and stability testing
  • Ensuring compliance with food safety regulations and guidelines
  • Collaborating with marketing and sales teams on product positioning
  • Scaling up recipes and processes for mass production

Sensory Scientist

A sensory scientist’s main role is the study of human perception and preferences in relation to new developments in food and drink. 

They design and conduct experiments to assess the taste, texture, aroma, and appearance of new ingredients and upcoming products. 

The findings of these tests provide invaluable insights for product development, hinting at where ingredients can be used and how. This allows product developers to determine where improvements can be made to improve flavour and aroma. 

Typical responsibilities include:

  • Designing and conducting sensory evaluations and consumer testing
  • Analysing data and interpreting results to guide product development
  • Collaborating with product developers to optimise sensory properties
  • Developing sensory quality control protocols
  • Training and managing sensory panels

Food Microbiologist

Food microbiologists focus on the microorganisms which naturally contaminate various food and beverage products. 

The primary aim of a food microbiologist is to preserve food products and eliminate harmful microbes which could cause harm to human health or encourage food products to perish faster than desired. 

To detect the presence of harmful pathogens, a food microbiologist will examine samples taken from various food sources. 

These samples will be used to develop strategies and countermeasures to control the growth of microorganisms and microbes – ensuring prolonged shelf life and food safety throughout the food supply chain. 

Typical responsibilities include: 

  • Conducting microbial analyses of food samples
  • Developing and implementing food safety plans
  • Investigating and resolving foodborne illness outbreaks
  • Monitoring and controlling food spoilage and contamination
  • Collaborating with quality assurance teams to maintain safety standards

Quality Assurance Manager

The role of a quality assurance manager is to oversee the implementation and improvement of food safety and quality control systems in various food and beverage production facilities. 

This includes the development and enforcement of a range of high standards which promote food safety and hygiene, in addition to ensuring all members of staff are complying with regulatory requirements and best industry practices. 

Typical responsibilities include: 

  • Developing and implementing quality management systems
  • Monitoring and evaluating production processes for compliance
  • Training staff in food safety and quality procedures
  • Conducting audits and inspections
  • Investigating and resolving quality-related issues

Food Regulatory Affairs Specialist

A food regulatory affairs specialist is responsible for ensuring all food products released to the public are guaranteed to meet the relevant legal and regulatory requirements expected of new food products. 

In order to prioritise the health of their customers, many food and beverage companies employ this role in order to ensure they are up to date with any changing laws and regulations. 

People in this job also provide guidance on how to stay compliant with regulatory requirements whilst liaising with government agencies and industry bodies to guarantee they are providing the most accurate information possible from the most relevant sources. 

Typical responsibilities include: 

  • Monitoring and interpreting food regulations and legislation
  • Ensuring compliance with local and international standards
  • Preparing and submitting documentation for product approvals and certifications
  • Collaborating with product developers to ensure regulatory compliance
  • Representing the company during regulatory inspections and audits

Food Process Engineer

By applying their vast knowledge of various engineering principles to the design, development, and optimisation of food processing and manufacturing systems, the primary aim of a food process engineer is to ensure the entire food and beverage production process is as streamlined and efficient as possible whilst guaranteeing the safety of products. 

People working in this job will focus on a few key things: increasing production efficiency, reducing waste and by-products, improving safety in the workplace, and improving the overall quality of food and beverage products. 

Typical responsibilities include:

  • Designing and improving food processing equipment and systems
  • Optimising production processes for efficiency and sustainability
  • Troubleshooting and resolving process-related issues
  • Collaborating with product developers and quality assurance teams
  • Implementing automation and process control technologies

Food Packaging Technologist

The role of a food packaging technologist involves testing and developing new packaging materials and designs to enhance the longevity and safety of food and beverage products. 

New packaging designs should meet various functional, aesthetic, and sustainability requirements to ensure they are not detrimental to the environment or human health. 

People in this role often collaborate with product developers and manufacturers to ensure their proposed packaging solutions are appropriate for the product and to see if any improvements need to be made to their proposed designs. 

Typical responsibilities include:

  • Evaluating and selecting packaging materials based on product requirements, cost-effectiveness, and environmental impact
  • Conducting tests to assess the performance, durability, and safety of packaging designs under various conditions
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams, including product development, manufacturing, and marketing, to ensure packaging meets product specifications and enhances the overall consumer experience

Find out about roles in the food sectors, and get tips and information about the career of your future with Food Matters Live’s free Inspiring Careers in Food guide.

The Inspiring Careers in Food Guide offers an unmissable opportunity to reach your target audience. Improve your Employer Brand Awareness, promote your opportunities to the future talent of the F&B industry, and spotlight the fantastic career pathways available with your business.


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