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New food science degree aims to prepare students for demanding careers

Published: 11/08/16 2:18PM
By: bradleyc

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Dr. Young Park, coordinator and professor of Fort Valley State University’s Food Science Program, (far right) assists students packaging goat cheese, using a double chamber vacuum packaging machine in the Georgia Small Ruminant Research and Extension Center on campus.

Fort Valley State University is offering a new innovative degree program that can train the next generation of scientists in the food technology and manufacturing industry.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, recently approved the Bachelor of Science degree in food science, the newest program offered through FVSU’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology.

FVSU, the 1890 Land Grant University in Georgia, is currently the only university in middle Georgia to offer the program. The University of Georgia and FVSU are the two institutions among 29 state institutions in the University System of Georgia to offer food science as a bachelor’s degree.

Students earning a bachelor’s degree in food science can find employment in food product development, food safety, quality assurance and analysis, distribution and sales among many others choices.

“Industry demand is outpacing the current supply of food scientists,” said Dr. Young Park, coordinator and professor of FVSU’s Food Science Program. “A student with an undergraduate degree can graduate from FVSU and get a job with a starting salary of $50, 000,” Park said.  

After creating a challenging curriculum and conducting research for many years, Park said he is positive about the opportunities available to students in the program, considering the steady demand of job potentials in food science.

According to Georgia Trend Outlook, food product industries in Georgia represent 15 percent of the total manufacturing employment in Georgia, employing nearly 69,000 workers. In addition, there is a six percent increase in food product manufacturing in Georgia.

Moreover, with the global population expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, 34 percent higher than today, food production must increase and the roles of food scientists will become more demanding in the future.

“There is obviously a critical need for more food science graduates in Georgia to meet the food manufacturing industry’s workforce demands,” said Dr. Govind Kannan, dean of the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. “I am positive that our food science program will greatly help in meeting these demands,” Kannan said. 

Aftab Siddique, a FVSU graduate animal science student concentrating in food product technology, said he chose this field because he wants to increase the nutritional value of foods. Siddique, a native of India, plans to complete his degree in spring 2017. After he graduates, he plans to pursue a doctorate degree in food toxicology.

By concentrating in the area of food science, Siddique said he aims to make food products more available and more nutritious. In his current research, he is working to fortify cheese with higher iron content since milk contains low iron levels.

Krishna Prasad Bastola, a graduate animal science student concentrating in food product technology, said he chose food science because he is highly interested in dairy products.

The Nepal native owns a dairy farm and want to promote his business by learning the techniques and practices in America.  

Brittany Davis, an animal science graduate student with a bachelor’s degree in biology, decided to concentrate in food science and technology in her graduate studies. Davis, of Warner Robins said she enjoys learning skills that can help to improve and secure food safety.

“I like that during the food science courses we are exposed to a number of fields. These courses expose you to chemistry, biochemistry, food safety, as well as dairy and meat product technology, and some food engineering,” Davis said.

After graduation, Davis wants to work in a food microbiology laboratory. In the future, she plans to become a certified food scientist working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture on research involving the detection and control of foodborne pathogens.

To apply to the food science program at FVSU, contact Dr. Young Park at (478) 827-3089 or parky@fvsu.edu .