Food scientist

In a world with an ever growing population and increasing starvation, the provision of good quality food products is becoming more and more important. South Africa’s food industry is a dynamic industry that offers excellent opportunities to qualify as food scientists.

What is Food Science?

Food science is the study of the various chemical and physical properties and components of food and how they respond to processing, preservation and storage. It is the application of this knowledge with that from disciplines such as chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and engineering, that is needed in providing a wide variety of safe, appealing and affordable foods. SAAFOST

What does a food scientist do?

Food scientists are able to apply know-how to produce, process, package, preserve, store, distribute and prepare quality food. In other words, they take over at the point where the harvested produce enters the factory or processing plant and their contribution ends when the consumer expresses satisfaction with the final product and makes the decision to purchase the product again. SAAFOST

Food Scientists can work in or at:

The Food and Allied Industries

The Food and Allied Industries are the employers of the greatest number of food scientists and technologists by far:

  • in processing plants and laboratories of all sizes in the various sectors of the food industry.
  • with suppliers of goods and services to the industry.
  • in the retail industry – e.g. Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths and others in other divisions of the food business.
  • the food industry also offers unique opportunities in marketing, technical sales, consulting and other areas requiring specialised knowledge.
Research Organisations and Parastatals
  • the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) does research relating to animal, crop and fruit farming and processing and operates from a number of sites throughout the country.
  • Biosciences at the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Indusrtrial Research) does research and collaborates with local and overseas universities on research projects of local and international relevance.
  • The SABS (South African Bureau of Standards) sets and monitors quality and management standards, is involved in legislative matters, inspection of food and fish and has extensive analytical laboratories.
Non-Governmental Organisations
  • included here are food industry bodies, chambers, associations and foundations such as the Meat Industry Council, Chambers of Milling and Baking, The Dairy Standard Agency, etc.
National Government Departments
  • the Dept of Health sets, updates and revises food legislation as necessary, advises on legislative matters and runs an analytical laboratory.
  • the Dept of Agriculture, in particular the Directorate of Food Safety and Quality Assurance – regulates and promotes the quality and safety of agricultural products of plant and animal origin.
  • Universities in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Stellenbosch and Venda do research and consult to industry while also lecturing to students and offering specialised training courses for industry.

Self-employment is an option for those with a good reputation and years of solid experience. Consultancy is an option for those with four year degrees who register as Natural Scientists with SACNASP (The South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions).

They can also become involved in:
  • Develop new products and improve existing ones.
  • Experiment with new ingredients, processes and packaging to optimise safety, consumer satisfaction, performance and quality and minimise costs and waste.
  • Set requirements and specifications for raw materials needed in new and existing products and check for conformance by means of visual, analytical and sensory methods.
  • Set specifications for products and processes and test for conformance.
  • Conduct taste panels to optimise new product formulations, to monitor production line conformance and solve off-flavour problems.
  • Continuously keep abreast of changes and amendments to legislation and regulations and be prepared to respond when drafts are published for comments.
  • Ensure that all raw materials, products, processes, practises, premises and packaging, labels and advertising conform to the various legal requirements.
  • Take regular samples of ingredients, products, the environment, etc., according to specified sampling techniques, in order to analyse products, raw materials and the effect of clean-up operations to ensure conformance to technical, nutrient, safety, microbiological and other quality standards and specifications.
  • Set up and run an active hygiene committee to maximise and maintain standards, train staff and establish a culture of hygiene, cleanliness and safety.
  • Solve problems relating to processing, packaging, spoilage, rancidity, infestation, general non-conformance, product failure, returns and complaints, etc.
  • Implement quality, food safety and good manufacturing procedures.
  • Conduct regular audits to maintain plant, process and product standards, including own products sourced from supermarket shelves.
  • Prepare, cook, and sensorially evaluate products to ensure conformance and customer satisfaction.
  • Follow up customer complaints with a view to solving problems and improving processes, procedures and products in order to maximise consumer acceptance.
  • Monitor and control environmental impacts.
  • Liaise with and educate the community with respect to technical aspects of food and its processing.
  • Read, attend training courses, workshops, congresses, symposia and exhibitions offered by experts in the field in order to keep up to date with developments and trends locally and abroad.

Food Science Lecturers

Dr Carina Bothma

Dr Carina Bothma

+27 51 401 2216

Dr De Wit (2)

Dr Maryna De Wit

+27 51 401 3261


Prof Arno Hugo

+27 51 401 2729


Prof Celia Hugo

+27 51 401 2692

Dr Koos Myburgh

Dr Koos Myburgh

+27 51 401 2900

Prof Gary Osthoff

Prof Garry Osthoff

+27 51 401 2216


Elfrieda Lötter: Marketing Manager
T: +27 51 401 2531

natwet homepage edit new2

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.