Current Food Science student Sarah Flynn explains why she decided to study food science in UCD and what students can expect from the course.

My name is Sarah Flynn and I am a third year food science student. Every time a well-meaning relative or family friend asks what I study in college, I tell them food science, then brace myself for the inevitable:

“Oh so you’re going to be a chef!”

“Well, not exactly, Aunt Moira.”

Food Science is the study of the chemical and physical properties of food and how these might change due to processes like storage and cooking. Really, a food scientist is someone who oversees the safe and efficient production of food.

If you can imagine your favourite food like a pizza or chocolate bar, food scientists worked from researching and developing that product, to formulating it, to testing its appearance and texture, to conducting taste tests and to choosing suitable packaging. As you can see, there’s a wide variety of jobs food scientists can do. Yes, you could be in charge of a group of professional chocolate tasters with this degree! Any food you buy in a supermarket today has been worked on by a group of food scientists to ensure that is safe to eat and of a high quality.

This spectrum of jobs for food scientists means that as a food science student of UCD, I study many interesting modules in the course of my degree. Some of the notable ones are subjects like Sensory Analysis, which involved learning about how taste tests are carried out and interpreted. This involved us food scientists tasting little plastic cups of different liquid and foods and ranking them on taste, appearance and texture. You would be surprised at what a fine art this is; one liquid that we all were convinced  smelled like Deep Heat cream turned out to be an almond flavouring!.

Another module of note was Product Development. Our whole class was split up into groups and we were tasked to make a new food product from scratch. From formulating (making up the recipe!), to texture tests to taste tests to figuring out the amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat in our product to designing the packaging, this presented a challenge to us we had never faced before. Our group got given the brief of a new crab product. With help from the friendly staff in the School of Food Science, we invented a new product called “Crab Mousse”. The module ended with a friendly competition where the staff and some representatives from the industry came in and judged our products.

The final result of our crab project

 

I picked this degree because I enjoyed science in secondary school, I love food and I adored the UCD campus since I first saw it at an open day I went to in fifth year. Food science in UCD is definitely a good choice for anyone who likes science and wants to work in one of the biggest and most fascinating industries in Ireland.

If you are interested in studying Food Science in UCD visit the MyUCD website here for more information