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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 29, 14 - 20 October 2023

Fortifying Food Security and Nutrition

Prateek Singh

 

The year 2023, is being celebrated as the International Year of Millets- an initiative spearheaded by the United Nations and passionately driven by India. As the global campaign to promote millets gains momentum, it has become essential to find innovative ways to make these nutritious grains a staple on plates across diverse cultures worldwide. Food technologists are at the forefront of this effort, developing appealing millet-based products and recipes that cater to diverse palates, ensuring that the nutritional benefits of millets reach a global audience. Indeed, with India at the forefront of promoting millets worldwide and the critical role of food technologists in this endeavour, choosing a career in food technology presents a golden opportunity for science students to not only take up a lucrative job but also make a meaningful impact on global food security and nutrition.

The Intersection of Food Technology and Food Security

The expertise of food technologists is instrumental in the pursuit of food security as they are the ones who ensure that the food we produce and consume meets the highest standards in terms of safety, nutrition, and sustainability. The key roles of food technologists include, but not limited to, the following:

 

1.      Development of Nutrient-Rich Foods: Food technologists are pivotal in the development of nutrient-rich foods. They create innovative products that not only taste good but also provide essential nutrients. From fortifying staple foods with vitamins and minerals to creating functional foods that address specific health needs, their work directly contributes to improving the quality of our diets. For example, food technologists have spearheaded the creation of alternative protein sources to address sustainability and health concerns. These innovations include plant-based proteins from soybeans, peas, and lentils used in meat substitutes and dairy alter-natives, the development of cultured or lab-grown meat produced without traditional livestock farming, the exploration of insect-based proteins like crickets and mealworms, the utilisation of microorganisms such as spirulina and yeast to produce protein-rich supplements, and the creation of fungi-based proteins like mycoprotein for meat alternatives. These protein sources not only cater to the rising demand for sustainable and ethical food options but also highlight the pivotal role of food technologists in shaping the future of protein-rich food choices.

 

2.      Food Safety Assurance: Ensuring food safety is a critical aspect of food security. Food technologists are responsible for developing and implementing stringent safety protocols and quality control measures throughout the food supply chain. Their expertise is essential in preventing foodborne illnesses and ensuring that the food we eat is safe and wholesome.

 

3.      Sustainable Food Production: Sustainability is a cornerstone of food security in an era of climate change and resource scarcity. Food technologists play a vital role in promoting sustainable food production practices. They advocate for and develop techniques like precision farming, organic farming, and sustainable packaging to reduce the environmental impact of food production while maintaining or increasing yields.

 

4.      Reducing Food Waste: Food technologists develop methods for better food storage, packaging, and distribution to minimise waste. By ensuring that more of the food produced reaches consumers and is utilised efficiently, they contribute to food security and resource conservation. Hence, the future of food security lies in the capable hands of food technologists, alongside agronomists, scientists, policy-makers, and forward-thinking individuals. Their innovative research and development efforts are instrumental in addressing the multifaceted challenges of feeding a growing global population while safeguarding the health of our planet. In our quest for a planet where hunger is just a memory, food technologists emerge as the superheroes shaping a future where tasty, safe, and eco-friendly eats are within everyone's reach. Jumping into this field isn't just a smart move; it's an invitation to a thrilling world brimming with potential and boundless avenues for growth.

How to Become a Food Technologist in India: The Government of India has taken significant steps to foster the growth of food technology and the requisite skill development in the country. Two National Institutes of Food Technology Entre-preneurship and Management (NIFTEM) are currently operational, one in Kundli, Haryana, and the other in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. These institutes offer a range of courses including B.Tech, M.Tech, and Ph.D. in Food Technology and related sectors, with NIFTEM Kundli also offering an MBA program. Recognising the growing demand for skilled professionals, the government has increased the sanctioned intake of students in these institutes. Additionally, there are several centrally funded, state-run, and private institutions and universities offering degrees in food technology to meet the rising manpower requirements in the food processing industry. A Review Committee established by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has acknowledged the institutes' commend-able performance and has encouraged them to explore contemporary areas in food science and technology. These initiatives underline the government's commitment to nurturing the food technology sector and creating opportunities for skilled professionals in the field.

If you wish to buckle up for a journey filled with scientific excitement and culinary exploration, here's your recipe for success:

1.      Foundational Education: Kickstart your quest by acing your 10+2 education, with a focus on science subjects like Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics (PCM) or Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (PCB).

2.      Bachelor's Degree: Next, enroll in a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) or Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) program specialising in Food Technology, Food Science, or a closely related field. You'll find these programs at various Indian institutions.

3.      Entrance Exam: Depending on your chosen institution, you might need to pass entrance exams like the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for B.Tech programs. Some universities have their own entrance exams and screening.

4.      Internship: Spice up your studies with internships and hands-on training in food processing industries, research labs, or food-related organisations. These experiences will season your skills.

5.      Master's Degree (Optional): For those craving advanced knowledge and more career options, a Master's degree such as M.Tech or M.Sc in Food Technology is on the menu. Some institutions serve up integrated B.Tech-M.Tech programs.

6.      Ph.D. (Optional): If research and academia are your goals, consider a Ph.D. in Food Technology or a related field. This involves deep-diving into research and could lead to teaching or research roles.

7.      Networking (Offline and Online): Build a professional network by attending conferences, seminars, and joining industry-related associations. It's your secret sauce for staying updated on industry trends and job opportunities. In this digital age, virtual platforms could be your go-to place when it comes to connecting with like-minded individuals, gaining insights, and expanding your horizons. Don't forget to spice up your journey by joining online platforms for idea exchange, career counselling, and networking. Virtual seminars and webinars are fantastic opportunities to stay informed and connected. It's like adding a pinch of technology to your career recipe, making it even more flavourful and dynamic!

8.      Job Hunt Journey: After completing your education and garnishing it with practical experience, embark on a quest to find delectable job opportunities. Look in food processing companies, research institutions, quality control labs, and government agencies overseeing food safety and standards.

9.      Upskill: Keep upgrading your skills through workshops, courses, and staying updated with the latest culinary trends.

B.Sc/B.Tech Food Technology Typical Curriculum in Indian Institutes: The curriculum of a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) or Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Food Technology in India is thoughtfully structured to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of various facets of food science, processing, and technology. This program equips students with the knowledge and practical skills needed to excel in the dynamic and ever-evolving food industry. Over the course of their studies, students explore topics such as the fundamentals of food processing, food chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, and food hygiene and sanitation. As they progress, they delve into more specialised areas, including milk processing, food analysis, food laws and quality assurance, and the production of fortified, concentrated, dehydrated, and fermented products.  The curriculum is not only designed to align with the demands of the food industry but also to address critical global challenges, such as food safety and security. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach, integrating elements of chemistry, biology, engineering, and nutrition. This prepares graduates to be versatile professionals capable of contributing to safer, more innovative, and nutritionally sound food production.

Where to Study Food Techno-logy in India (Indicative List)

1.      Indian Institute of Technology, IIT Kharagpur, West Bengal

2.      Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

3.      Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, Karnataka

4.      National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM), Sonepat, Haryana

5.      Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai, Maharashtra

6.      National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal, Haryana

7.      Jadavpur University, Kolkata,West Bengal

8.      National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, Orissa

9.      Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

10.  Jayoti Vidyapeeth Women's Univer-sity, Jaipur, Rajasthan

11.  Nehru Group of Institutions, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

12.  Shyam University, Dausa, Rajasthan

13.  School of Engineering, Avinasha-lingam University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

14.  Jaipur National University, School of Engineering and Technology, Jaipur, Rajasthan

15.  Integral University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

16.  Parul University, Vadodara, Gujarat

17.  Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh

18.  Kalasalingam Academy of Research and Education, Krishnankovil, Tamil Nadu

19.  Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

20.  Kongu Engineering College, Erode, Tamil Nadu

21.  Vignan's Foundation for Science, Technology, and Research, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh

22.  Bannari Amman Institute of Technology, Sathyamangalam, Tamil Nadu

23.  Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

24.  University Institute of Engineering, Chandigarh University, Chandigarh

25.  Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar, Punjab

26.  Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Sangrur, Punjab

27.  Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

28.  University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, Uttarakhand

29.  Haldia Institute of Technology, Haldia, West Bengal

30.  Sharda University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh

31.  Harcourt Butler Technological University, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh

32.  Jaipur National University, Jaipur, Rajasthan

33.  Integral University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

34.  NIMS University, Jaipur, Rajasthan

35.  Techno India University, Kolkata, West Bengal

36.  OPJS University, Churu, Rajasthan

37.  Centurion University of Technology and Management, Paralkhemundi, Orissa

38.  Shoolini University, Solan, Himachal Pradesh

39.  Academy of Maritime Education and Training University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

40.  RIMT University, Gobindgarh, Punjab

This list includes a diverse range of institutions offering undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs in Food Technology and related fields. Admission criteria, program offerings, and course details may vary from one institution to another, so it's essential to visit the official websites of these institutions for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Additionally, consider factors such as location, faculty expertise, research opportunities, and infrastructure when choosing the right institution for your Food Technology studies.

Typical & Unconventional Job Profiles of Food Technologists

1. Typical Job Roles:

Food Technologist: This is the most common role, where professionals are responsible for developing, testing, and improving food products.

Quality Assurance Officer: Quality assurance officers ensure that food products meet the necessary standards and regulations. They conduct inspections, audits, and quality checks to maintain product consistency.

Production Manager: These managers oversee the food production by managing production schedules, budgets, and staff.

Research Scientist: Food technologists can work in research and development, where they innovate and improve food products, processes, and packaging methods.

Food Safety Officer: These professionals focus on ensuring food safety by inspecting food processing facilities, conducting hygiene audits, and implementing safety protocols.

Nutritional Therapist: Some food technologists become nutritional therapists, advising individuals and communities on healthy eating habits based on their understanding of food nutrition.

2. Out-of-the-Box Job Roles:

Sensory Analyst: Sensory analysts evaluate food products for taste, smell, texture, and appearance to ensure consistency and quality. They play a crucial role in product development.

Regulatory Affairs Specialist: These specialists navigate the complex world of food regulations and ensure that companies comply with all legal requirements.

 

Food Packaging Specialist: Experts in food packaging design and safety, they develop innovative, efficient, and sustainable packaging solutions.

Product Development Scientist: These professionals work on creating new food products or improving existing ones to meet consumer demand for taste, health, and convenience.

Culinary Scientist: Combining culinary skills with food science, culinary scientists develop new recipes and dishes for restaurants, food companies, cook books and even TV shows.

Food Consultant: Food consultants provide expert advice to businesses on food-related matters, including product development, quality improvement, and cost-saving measures.

Food Critic/Blogger/Content Creator: With a deep understanding of food, some food technologists become food bloggers, critics, online content creators or writers, sharing their insights and opinions with the public.

Flavourist: Flavourists are responsible for creating and enhancing food flavours, often working with companies that produce beverages, confectionery, and processed foods.

Government Initiatives Driving Demand and Aiding Skills Development & Entrepreneurship in Food Technology

The Indian government's initiatives in the food technology industry are poised to have a significant impact on job creation and skill development in the country. Key initiatives include:

1.      Production Linked Incentive Scheme: The PLI Scheme for the Food Processing Industry aims to create global food manufacturing champions and increase off-farm job opportunities. It encourages investment in the sector, leading to the expansion of food processing capacity, which, in turn, generates direct and indirect employment opportunities for about 2.5 lakh people by 2026-27. This scheme also prioritises the entire manufacturing process to take place in India, further contributing to domestic job creation.

2.      PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises: Launched under the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan,' this scheme is focused on promoting 'vocal for local' in the food processing sector. It supports micro food processing units with credit-linked subsidies, enhancing the skills and capabilities of local entre-preneurs. Capacity building and training programs have been conducted to empower beneficiaries, ultimately leading to job creation at the grassroots level.

3.      Skill Development and Training: The Ministry of Food Processing Industries, in collaboration with institutions like NIFTEM, has been actively involved in developing training modules and courses. These programs have trained thousands of individuals, including master trainers and district-level trainers, in various aspects of food processing. Skill development not only improves employability but also boosts entrepreneurship in the sector.

4.       Seed Capital Support: The government provides seed capital to Self-Help Group (SHG) members engaged in food processing activities. This financial support helps indivi-duals and groups establish their food processing enterprises, fostering local employment opportunities.

5.      Capacity Building Centers: These centers, established in different regions, provide training and capacity-building programs for entrepreneurs and stakeholders. They play a crucial role in equipping individuals with the necessary skills to excel in the food processing industry.

6.      Promotion of Entrepreneurship: The food processing business incubation centers, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, offer hands-on training and support to entrepreneurs. These centers enable the development of innovative food products and businesses, thus contributing to job creation.

The government's concerted efforts to bolster the food processing industry through various schemes and initiatives have a direct and positive impact on job creation and skill development. By empowering individuals with the skills and resources needed to thrive in this sector, these initiatives are not only enhancing employment opportunities but also fostering entrepreneurship and economic growth in India. Food techno-logists and entrepreneurs are well-positioned to take advantage of this favourable environment, ensuring a bright career path in the food industry - the most indispensable sector of every country's economy.

The author is a NEET, JEE Coach. Feedback on this article can be sent to:feedback.employmentnews@gmail.com

Image courtesy: Stock Image

Views expressed are personal.