Organic Chemistry in Nutrition, Food Science and Biotechnology|ISC Chemistry Project|Biswajit Das



Organic chemistry is essential in understanding nutrition, food science, and biotechnology. Learn about the chemical processes and applications involved here.

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Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry that studies the structure, properties and reactions of organic compounds, which contain carboncarbon covalent bonds. Organic compounds form the basis of all earthly life and constitute the majority of known chemicals. The bonding patterns of carbon, with its valence of four—formal single, double, and triple bonds, plus structures with delocalized electrons—make the array of organic compounds structurally diverse, and their range of applications enormous. They form the basis of, or are constituents of, many commercial products including pharmaceuticalspetrochemicals and agrichemicals, and products made from them including lubricantssolventsplasticsfuels and explosives. The study of organic chemistry overlaps organometallic chemistry and biochemistry, but also with medicinal chemistrypolymer chemistry, and materials science.


The organic nutrients are the necessary building blocks of various cell components that certain organisms cannot synthesize and therefore must obtain preformed. These compounds include carbohydrates, protein, and lipids. Other organic nutrients include the vitamins, which are required in small amounts, because of either the catalytic role or the regulatory role they play in metabolism.


carbohydrate is a biomolecule consisting of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) atoms, usually with a hydrogen–oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 (as in water) and thus with the empirical formula Cm(H2O)n (where m may or may not be different from n). However, not all carbohydrates conform to this precise stoichiometric definition (e.g., uronic acids, deoxy-sugars such as fucose), nor are all chemicals that do conform to this definition automatically classified as carbohydrates (e.g. formaldehyde and acetic acid).


Carbohydrates are polyhydroxy aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, acids, their simple derivatives and their polymers having linkages of the acetal type. They may be classified according to their degree of polymerization, and may be divided initially into three principal groups, namely sugars, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

(degree of polymerization)
Subgroup Components
Sugars (1–2) Monosaccharides Glucosegalactosefructosexylose
Disaccharides Sucroselactosemaltoseisomaltulosetrehalose
Polyols Sorbitolmannitol
Oligosaccharides (3–9) Malto-oligosaccharides Maltodextrins
Other oligosaccharides Raffinosestachyose, fructo-oligosaccharides
Polysaccharides (>9) Starch Amyloseamylopectin, modified starches
Non-starch polysaccharides GlycogenCelluloseHemicellulosePectinsHydrocolloids

Carbohydrate consumed in food yields 3.87 kilocalories of energy per gram for simple sugars,and 3.57 to 4.12 kilocalories per gram for complex carbohydrate in most other foods. Relatively high levels of carbohydrate are associated with processed foods or refined foods made from plants, including sweets, cookies and candy, table sugar, honey, soft drinks, breads and crackers, jams and fruit products, pastas and breakfast cereals. Lower amounts of carbohydrate are usually associated with unrefined foods, including beans, tubers, rice, and unrefined fruit. Animal-based foods generally have the lowest carbohydrate levels, although milk does contain a high proportion of lactose.

Organisms typically cannot metabolize all types of carbohydrate to yield energy. Glucose is a nearly universal and accessible source of energy. Many organisms also have the ability to metabolize other monosaccharides and disaccharides but glucose is often metabolized first. In Escherichia coli, for example, the lac operon will express enzymes for the digestion of lactose when it is present, but if both lactose and glucose are present the lac operon is repressed, resulting in the glucose being used first . Polysaccharides are also common sources of energy. Many organisms can easily break down starches into glucose; most organisms, however, cannot metabolize cellulose or other polysaccharides like chitin and arabinoxylans. These carbohydrate types can be metabolized by some bacteria and protists. Ruminants and termites, for example, use microorganisms to process cellulose. Even though these complex carbohydrates are not very digestible, they represent an important dietary element for humans, called dietary fiber. Fiber enhances digestion, among other benefits.


The Institute of Medicine recommends that American and Canadian adults get between 45 and 65% of dietary energy from whole-grain carbohydrates. The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization jointly recommend that national dietary guidelines set a goal of 55–75% of total energy from carbohydrates, but only 10% directly from sugars (their term for simple carbohydrates). A 2017 Cochrane Systematic Review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that whole grain diets can affect cardiovascular disease.

Low-carbohydrate diets may miss the health advantages – such as increased intake of dietary fiber – afforded by high-quality carbohydrates found in legumes and pulseswhole grains, fruits, and vegetables. A “meta-analysis, of moderate quality,” included as adverse effects of the diet halitosisheadache and constipation.

Carbohydrate-restricted diets can be as effective as low-fat diets in helping achieve weight loss over the short term when overall calorie intake is reduced. An Endocrine Society scientific statement said that “when calorie intake is held constant body-fat accumulation does not appear to be affected by even very pronounced changes in the amount of fat vs carbohydrate in the diet.” In the long term, effective weight loss or maintenance depends on calorie restriction, not the ratio of macronutrients in a diet. The reasoning of diet advocates that carbohydrates cause undue fat accumulation by increasing blood insulin levels, and that low-carbohydrate diets have a “metabolic advantage”, is not supported by clinical evidence. Further, it is not clear how low-carbohydrate dieting affects cardiovascular health, although two reviews showed that carbohydrate restriction may improve lipid markers of cardiovascular disease risk.


Carbohydrate-restricted diets are no more effective than a conventional healthy diet in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes, but for people with type 2 diabetes, they are a viable option for losing weight or helping with glycemic control. There is limited evidence to support routine use of low-carbohydrate dieting in managing type 1 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes should adopt a generally healthy diet, rather than a diet focused on carbohydrate or other macronutrients.[40]

An extreme form of low-carbohydrate diet – the ketogenic diet – is established as a medical diet for treating epilepsy. Through celebrity endorsement during the early 21st century, it became a fad diet as a means of weight loss, but with risks of undesirable side effects, such as low energy levels and increased hunger, insomnia, nausea, and gastrointestinal discomfort.(scientific citation needed) The British Dietetic Association named it one of the “top 5 worst celeb diets to avoid in 2018”.



Proteins are large biomolecules and macromolecules that comprise one or more long chains of amino acid residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including catalysing metabolic reactionsDNA replicationresponding to stimuli, providing structure to cells and organisms, and transporting molecules from one location to another. Proteins differ from one another primarily in their sequence of amino acids, which is dictated by the nucleotide sequence of their genes, and which usually results in protein folding into a specific 3D structure that determines its activity.

Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that link together in different combinations. Your body uses them to make new proteins, such as muscle and bone, and other compounds such as enzymes and hormones. It can also use them as an energy source.

Some amino acids can be made by your body – there are 11 of these and they’re known as non-essential amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that your body cannot make, and they are known as essential amino acids. You need to include enough of these in your diet so that your body can function.


The nutritional value of a protein is measured by the quantity of essential amino acids it contains.

Different foods contain different amounts of essential amino acids. Generally:

  • Animal products (such as chicken, beef or fish and dairy products) have all of the essential amino acids and are known as ‘complete’ protein (or ideal or high-quality protein).
  • Soy products, quinoa and the seed of a leafy green called amaranth (consumed in Asia and the Mediterranean) also have all of the essential amino acids.
  • Plant proteins (beans, lentils, nuts and whole grains) usually lack at least one of the essential amino acids and are considered ‘incomplete’ proteins.

People following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet need to choose a variety of protein sources from a combination of plant foods every day to make sure they get an adequate mix of essential amino acids.

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as long as you eat a wide variety of foods, you can usually get the protein you need. For example, a meal containing cereals and legumes, such as baked beans on toast, provides all the essential amino acids found in a typical meat dish.

Some food sources of dietary protein include:

  • lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
  • poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
  • fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
  • eggs
  • dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
  • nuts (including nut pastes) and seeds – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
  • legumes and beans – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, tofu.

Some grain and cereal-based products are also sources of protein, but are generally not as high in protein as meat and meat-alternative products.

Your daily protein needs can easily be met by following the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The Guidelines group foods into 5 different food groups, each of which provide key nutrients.

The 2 main food groups that contribute to protein are the:

  • ‘lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans’ group
  • ‘milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)’ group.

As part of a healthy diet, the Guidelines recommend particular serves per day from each of the 5 food groups.

The human body can’t store protein and will excrete any excess, so the most effective way of meeting your daily protein requirement is to eat small amounts at every meal.

Daily recommended serves of ‘lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans’ and ‘milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)’ for adults

Person Recommended average daily number of serves of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans Recommended average daily number of serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)
Men aged 19–50 years 3 2 1/2
Men aged 51–70 years 2 1/2 2 1/2
Men aged 70+ years 2 1/2 3 1/2
Women aged 19–50 years 2 1/2 2 1/2
Women aged 51–70 years 2 4
Women aged 70+ years 2 4
Pregnant women 3 1/2 2 1/2
Lactating women 2 1/2 2 1/2

So, what is a serve? A standard serving size of ‘lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans’ is one of:

  • 65 g cooked lean meats such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (about 90 to 100 g raw)
  • 80 g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or turkey (100 g raw)
  • 100 g cooked fish fillet (about 115 g raw weight) or one small can of fish
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (150 g) cooked dried beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas or canned beans (preferably with no added salt)
  • 170 g tofu
  • 30 g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or tahini or other nut or seed paste (no added salt).

A serve of ‘milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)’ could include:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) fresh, UHT long life, reconstituted powdered milk or buttermilk
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) evaporated milk
  • 200 g (3/4 cup or 1 small carton) yoghurt
  • 40 g (2 slices) hard cheese such as cheddar
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) ricotta cheese.

Protein requirements for children and teenagers change as they grow. Read about the recommended number of serves for children, adolescents and toddlers for all 5 food groups.

Getting more protein into your day, naturally

If you’re looking for ways to get more protein into your diet, here are some suggestions:

  • Try a peanut butter sandwich. Remember to use natural peanut butter (or any other nut paste) with no added salt, sugar or other fillers.
  • Low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese is high in protein and can go in your scrambled eggs, casserole, mashed potato or pasta dish. Or spread it on your toast in the morning.
  • Nuts and seeds are fantastic in salads, with vegetables and served on top of curries. Try toasting some pine nuts or flaked almonds and putting them in your green salad.
  • Beans are great in soups, casseroles, and pasta sauces. Try tipping a drained can of cannellini beans into your favourite vegetable soup recipe or casserole.
  • A plate of hummus and freshly cut vegetable sticks as a snack or hummus spread on your sandwich will give you easy extra protein at lunchtime.
  • Greek yoghurt is a protein rich food that you can use throughout the day. Add some on your favourite breakfast cereal, put a spoonful on top of a bowl of pumpkin soup or serve it as dessert with some fresh fruit.
  • Eggs are a versatile and easy option that can be enjoyed on their own or mixed in a variety of dishes.

Getting too little protein (protein deficiency)

Protein deficiency means not getting enough protein in your diet. Protein deficiency is rare in Australia, as the Australian diet generally includes far more protein than we actually need. However, protein deficiency may occur in people with special requirements, such as older people and people following strict vegetarian or vegan diets.

Symptoms of protein deficiency include:

  • wasting and shrinkage of muscle tissue
  • oedema (build-up of fluids, particularly in the feet and ankles)
  • anaemia (the blood’s inability to deliver sufficient oxygen to the cells, usually caused by dietary deficiencies such as lack of iron)
  • slow growth (in children).

Protein – maintaining muscle mass as you age

From around 50 years of age, humans begin to gradually lose skeletal muscle. This is known as sarcopenia and is common in older people. Loss of muscle mass is worsened by chronic illness, poor diet and inactivity.

Meeting the daily recommended protein intake may help you maintain muscle mass and strength. This is important for maintaining your ability to walk and reducing your risk of injury from falls.

To maintain muscle mass, it’s important for older people to eat protein ‘effectively’. This means consuming high-quality protein foods, such as lean meats.

Protein shakes, powders and supplements

Protein shakes, powders and supplements are unnecessary for most Australians’ health needs. According to the most recent national nutrition survey, 99% of Australians get enough protein through the food they eat.

Any protein you eat on top of what your body needs will either be excreted from your body as waste, or stored as weight gain.


The best way for you to get the protein you need is to eat a wide variety of protein-rich foods as outlined in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, as part of a balanced diet. But if you are still interested in using protein shakes, powders and supplements, talk to your doctor.

Protein and exercise

Soon after exercising, it’s recommended that you have a serve of high-quality protein (such as a glass of milk or tub of yoghurt) with a carbohydrate meal to help maintain your body’s protein balance. Studies have shown this is good for you, even after low to moderate aerobic exercise (such as walking), particularly for older adults.

People who exercise vigorously or are trying to put on muscle mass do not need to consume extra protein. High-protein diets do not lead to increased muscle mass. It’s the stimulation of muscle tissue through exercise, not extra dietary protein, which leads to muscle growth.

Studies show that weight-trainers who do not eat extra protein (either in food or protein powders) still gain muscle at the same rate as weight-trainers who supplement their diets with protein.

Very high protein diets are dangerous

Some fad diets promote very high protein intakes of between 200 and 400 g per day. This is more than 5 times the amount recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

The protein recommendations in the Guidelines provide enough protein to build and repair muscles, even for body builders and athletes.

A very high-protein diet can strain the kidneys and liver. It can also prompt excessive loss of the mineral calcium, which can increase your risk of osteoporosis.


In biology and biochemistry, a lipid is a biomolecule that is soluble in nonpolar solvents. Non-polar solvents are hydrocarbons used to dissolve other hydrocarbon lipid molecules that do not dissolve in water, including fatty acidswaxessterols, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), monoglyceridesdiglyceridestriglycerides, and phospholipids.

The functions of lipids include storing energy, signaling, and acting as structural components of cell membranes. Lipids have applications in the cosmetic and food industries as well as in nanotechnology.

Most of the fat found in food is in the form of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids. Some dietary fat is necessary to facilitate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (ADE, and K) and carotenoids.[90]: 903  Humans and other mammals have a dietary requirement for certain essential fatty acids, such as linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) because they cannot be synthesized from simple precursors in the diet. Both of these fatty acids are 18-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acids differing in the number and position of the double bonds. Most vegetable oils are rich in linoleic acid (safflowersunflower, and corn oils). Alpha-linolenic acid is found in the green leaves of plants and in some seeds, nuts, and legumes (in particular flaxrapeseedwalnut, and soy). Fish oils are particularly rich in the longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Many studies have shown positive health benefits associated with consumption of omega-3 fatty acids on infant development, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and various mental illnesses (such as depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dementia).

In contrast, it is now well-established that consumption of trans fats, such as those present in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Fats that are good for one may be turned into trans fats by improper cooking methods that result in overcooking the lipids.

A few studies have suggested that total dietary fat intake is linked to an increased risk of obesity  and diabetes; however, a number of very large studies, including the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, an eight-year study of 49,000 women, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, revealed no such links. None of these studies suggested any connection between percentage of calories from fat and risk of cancer, heart disease, or weight gain. The Nutrition Source, a website maintained by the department of nutrition at the T. H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, summarizes the current evidence on the effect of dietary fat: “Detailed research—much of it done at Harvard—shows that the total amount of fat in the diet isn’t really linked with weight or disease.”


Saturated fatty acids

The simplest fatty acids are unbranched, linear chains of CH2 groups linked by carbon-carbon single bonds with one terminal carboxylic acid group. The term saturated indicates that the maximum possible number of hydrogen atoms are bonded to each carbon in the molecule. Many saturated fatty acids have a trivial or common name as well as a chemically descriptive systematic name. The systematic names are based on numbering the carbon atoms, beginning with the acidic carbon. The table gives the names and typical biological sources of the most common saturated fatty acids. Although the chains are usually between 12 and 24 carbons long, several shorter-chain fatty acids are biochemically important. For instance, butyric acid (C4) and caproic acid (C6) are lipids found in milk. Palm kernel oil, an important dietary source of fat in certain areas of the world, is rich in fatty acids that contain 8 and 10 carbons (C8 and C10).

trivial name systematic name number of carbons in chain typical sources
lauric acid n-dodecanoic acid 12 palm kernel oil, nutmeg
myristic acid n-tetradecanoic acid 14 palm kernel oil, nutmeg
palmitic acid n-hexadecanoic acid 16 olive oil, animal lipids
stearic acid n-octadecanoic acid 18 cocoa butter, animal lipids
behenic acid n-docosanoic acid 22 brain tissue, radish oil
lignoceric acid n-tetracosanoic acid 24 brain tissue, carnauba wax

Unsaturated fatty acids

Unsaturated fatty acids have one or more carbon-carbon double bonds. The term unsaturated indicates that fewer than the maximum possible number of hydrogen atoms are bonded to each carbon in the molecule. The number of double bonds is indicated by the generic name—monounsaturated for molecules with one double bond or polyunsaturated for molecules with two or more double bonds. Oleic acid is an example of a monounsaturated fatty acid. Common representative monounsaturated fatty acids together with their names and typical sources are listed in the table. The prefix cis-9 in the systematic name of palmitoleic acid denotes that the position of the double bond is between carbons 9 and 10. Two possible conformations, cis and trans, can be taken by the two CH2 groups immediately adjacent to the double-bonded carbons. In the cis configuration, the one occurring in all biological unsaturated fatty acids, the two adjacent carbons lie on the same side of the double-bonded carbons. In the trans configuration, the two adjacent carbons lie on opposite sides of the double-bonded carbons.

trivial name systematic name number of carbons in chain typical sources
palmitoleic acid cis-9-hexadecenoic acid 16 marine algae, pine oil
oleic acid cis-9-octadecenoic acid 18 animal tissues, olive oil
gadoleic acid cis-9-eicosenoic acid 20 fish oils (cod, sardine)
erucic acid cis-13-docosenoic acid 22 rapeseed oil
nervonic acid cis-15-tetracosenoic acid 24 sharks, brain tissue

Fatty acids containing more than one carbon-carbon double bond (polyunsaturated fatty acids) are found in relatively minor amounts. The multiple double bonds are almost always separated by a CH2 group (―CH2―CH=CH―CH2―CH=CH―CH2―), a regular spacing motif that is the result of the biosynthetic mechanism by which the double bonds are introduced into the hydrocarbon chain. The table lists the most common polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic and arachidonic, together with several that are less common. Arachidonic acid (C20) is of particular interest as the precursor of a family of molecules, known as eicosanoids (from Greek eikosi, “twenty”), that includes prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes. These compounds, produced by cells under certain conditions, have potent physiological properties, as explained in the section Intracellular and extracellular messengers. Animals cannot synthesize two important fatty acids, linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid), that are the precursors of the eicosanoids and so must obtain them in the diet from plant sources. For this reason, these precursors are called essential fatty acids.

trivial name systematic name number of carbons in chain typical sources
linoleic acid cis-9-, cis-12-octadecadienoic acid 18 corn oil, animal tissues, bacteria
linolenic acid cis-9-, cis-12-, cis-15-octadecatrienoic acid 18 animal tissues
5,8,11-eicosatrienoic acid 20  
8,11,14-eicosatrienoic acid 20 brain tissue
7,10,13-docosatrienoic acid 22 phospholipids
8,11,14-docosatrienoic acid 22  
arachidonic acid 5,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid 20 liver, brain tissue
4,7,10,13-docosatetraenoic acid 22 brain tissue
4,7,10,13,16,19-docosahexaenoic acid 22 brain tissue

Trans polyunsaturated fatty acids, although not produced biosynthetically by mammals, are produced by microorganisms in the gut of ruminant animals such as cows and goats, and they are also produced synthetically by partial hydrogenation of fats and oils in the manufacture of margarine (the so-called trans fats). There is evidence that ingestion of trans fats can have deleterious metabolic effects.


Digestion of dietary fatty acids

The main source of fatty acids in the diet is triglycerides, generically called fats. In humans, fat constitutes an important part of the diet, and in some countries it can contribute as much as 45 percent of energy intake. Triglycerides consist of three fatty acid molecules, each linked by an ester bond to one of the three OH groups of a glycerol molecule. After ingested triglycerides pass through the stomach and into the small intestine, detergents called bile salts are secreted by the liver via the gall bladder and disperse the fat as micelles. Pancreatic enzymes called lipases then hydrolyze the dispersed fats to give monoglycerides and free fatty acids. These products are absorbed into the cells lining the small intestine, where they are resynthesized into triglycerides. The triglycerides, together with other types of lipids, are then secreted by these cells in lipoproteins, large molecular complexes that are transported in the lymph and blood to recipient organs. In detail, the process of triglyceride or fat absorption from dietary sources is quite complex and differs somewhat depending upon the animal species.



After transport through the circulation, triglycerides are hydrolyzed yet again to fatty acids in the adipose tissue. There they are transported into adipose cells, where once again they are resynthesized into triglycerides and stored as droplets. Fat or adipose tissue essentially consists of cells, whereby the interior of each cell is largely occupied by a fat droplet. The triglyceride in these droplets is available to the body on demand as communicated to adipose tissue by hormone messengers.

Various animals store triglycerides in different ways. In sharks, for example, fat is stored in the liver, but in bony fish it is deposited in and around muscle fibres. Insects store fat in a special organ called the fat body. The development of true adipose tissue is found only in higher animals.

Food Science

Food science is the basic science and applied science of food; its scope starts at overlap with agricultural science and nutritional science and leads through the scientific aspects of food safety and food processing, informing the development of food technology.


Food science brings together multiple scientific disciplines. It incorporates concepts from fields such as chemistryphysicsphysiologymicrobiology, and biochemistryFood technology incorporates concepts from chemical engineering, for example.

Activities of food scientists include the development of new food products, design of processes to produce these foods, choice of packaging materials, shelf-life studies, sensory evaluation of products using survey panels or potential consumers, as well as microbiological and chemical testing. Food scientists may study more fundamental phenomena that are directly linked to the production of food products and its properties.


The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as “the discipline in which the engineering, biological, and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public”. The textbook Food Science defines food science in simpler terms as “the application of basic sciences and engineering to study the physical, chemical, and biochemical nature of foods and the principles of food processing”.

“Feeding the World Today and Tomorrow: The Importance of Food Science and Technology”; John D. Foloros, Rosetta Newsome, William Fisher; from Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety; 2010

Food Science has given us

  • frozen foods
  • canned foods
  • microwave meals
  • milk which keeps
  • snacks
  • nutritious new foods
  • more easily prepared traditional foods
  • above all, VARIETY in our diets.

The Food Scientist helps supply this bounty by learning to apply a wide range of scientific knowledge to maintain a high quality, abundant food supply. Food Science allows us to make the best use of our food resources and minimize waste.


Most food materials are of biological origin. How they behave in harvesting, processing, distribution, storage and preparation is a complex problem. Full awareness of all important aspects of the problem requires broad-based training.

To be a Food Scientist and help handle the world’s food supply to maximum advantage, you need some familiarity with

  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Engineering
  • Some specialized Statistics.

With this special training in the applied Food Science, many exciting and productive careers with a wide range of employment opportunities exist for the trained professional, such as

  • Product Development Specialist
  • Sensory Scientist
  • Quality Control Specialist
  • Technical Sales Representative

Why is Food Science Important? 

Food science is a fast-growing field, and it comes as a response to the growing social changes taking place across the world. At first, the food and agriculture industry provided primary products like proteins and produce to be prepared at home. 


Now, the market demands more sophisticated and convenient products as a result of our ambitious, busy society. But these easy-to-prepare and convenient foods come with problems and challenges that only highly trained scientists can solve. These food scientists need to know the complex biochemistry and chemical makeup of food systems. And they need to know the methods to preserve foods. 

The large increase in easy-made foods means there’s a higher demand for food scientists. They’ll continue ensuring the quality, safety, and wholesome nutrition of these packaged meals. Food businesses need to keep up with the competitive market that demands high-quality products. New scientific principles, methods, and technologies are being developed and applied to food manufacturing. That’s exactly why food science is important! 

Food Scientist or Food Science Technician

As a food scientist, your responsibilities may include checking raw ingredients for stability for processing and ensuring food safety, quality, and wholesome nutritional value. You may also work to develop new ways of processing, preserving, and packaging foods. 

Product Development

Within product development, individuals work among a production team to develop new recipes using new and existing ingredients. The recipes created may need to meet specific criteria, such as low fat, low sugar, or low carbohydrate recipes. 

Purchasing Manager

This food science job is all about buying the proper materials, ingredients, or supplies at the best possible price. You’ll work with a team of buyers to procure items such as the freshest ingredients for a new recipe your business is offering. 

Quality Assurance Manager

Those who work in quality assurance work to ensure food products meet safety and nutritional standards based on governmental regulations. They collect and analyse data on the current regulations and procedures and provide solutions on how to improve them. 


If you choose to pursue a career in toxicology, you’ll conduct studies on food to research how different substances and chemicals affect them.


What is Food Biotechnology?
Modern food biotechnology increases the speed and precision with which scientists can improve food traits and production practices. For centuries prior to the development of this technology, farmers have spent generations crossbreeding plants or animals to obtain the specific beneficial traits they were looking for and avoid the traits they did not want. The process not only took a lot of time and effort, but the final outcome was far from guaranteed. Today, food biotechnology utilizes the knowledge of plant science and genetics to further this tradition. Through the use of modern biotechnology, scientists can move genes for valuable traits from one plant to another. This process results in tangible environmental and economic benefits, that are passed on to the farmer and the consumer.


Agricultural Biotechnology Benefits the Environment
Protection of the environment is one area where biotechnology is playing an important role. Scientists are using biotechnology to improve the process by which food is being produced in order to make it more environmentally friendly. For instance, certain biotech foods are designed to be resistant to pests and diseases. This allows farmers to use fewer chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides, while still maintaining a healthy, high-yielding crop.  The reduction in chemical usage is beneficial for water and wildlife, as well as for those consumers who may worry about ingesting chemicals when they eat fruits and vegetables.


Another major advantage to biotech crops is they require less tilling, or plowing, to control weeds since many are modified to be inherently resistant to herbicides, which can be used more selectively. The use of conservation tillage, where much or all of the crop residue is left in the field and tilling is reduced or eliminated, helps to conserve water from rainfall and irrigation, increase water absorption, limits soil erosion and compaction, and creates healthier soil. All of these benefits aid in maximizing crop yields and minimizing water usage2.  Additionally, conservation tillage releases less carbon dioxide, or CO2, into the environment compared to conventional tillage and helps to sustain habitats beneficial for insects, birds, and other animals3.  Finally, biotechnology can help to limit deforestation. This is due to the fact biotech crops produce higher yield and therefore require less acreage to produce the same amount of product. In addition, researchers are working on modified growing traits, such as drought resistance, to aid in growing food in less arable areas.


Agricultural Biotechnology Provides Benefits for Consumers Now and In the Future
Food biotechnology can benefit the consumer in two main ways: by aiding in growing more food on less land and through new nutritionally enhanced foods. As of July 2008, over twenty different food biotech products were on the market and numerous more were in development. The majority of the products presently available have modified growing traits, like pest and disease resistance, which can help prevent crop loss and therefore help grow more food.


Nutritionally enhanced biotech food is currently a major area of research that has already produced a few promising products. Examples include cooking oils with unique fatty acid profiles and less then one percent trans fats and corn with higher concentrations of amino acids, certain oils and minerals ideal for animal feed.  Furthermore, many products in development are being engineered to confer nutritional benefits, such as the new “golden rice” which contains added beta-carotene and iron. Scientists are conducting research on ways to make foods, such as soy and peanuts, with fewer allergens by removing the offending proteins which cause the majority of allergic reactions in people. Also in development are fruits and vegetables with higher levels of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and protein.  These second generation biotech foods promise to provide consumers with products that stay fresh longer, contain less allergens, and have higher levels of healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, while still having the first generation growing traits, which give rise to hardy, high-yield crops.

Would consumers be likely to eat biotech foods? According IFIC’s 2008 Food Biotechnology: A Study of US Consumer Trends, the majority (53 percent) of consumers have neutral impressions of plant biotechnology. A majority would purchase foods produced through biotechnology for specific benefits including providing more healthful fats (78 percent), like Omega-3, reducing trans (76 percent) and saturated fat (75 percent); and making foods taste better or fresher (67 percent).


Agricultural Biotechnology Benefits the Farmer
Agricultural biotechnology has a positive impact on farmers’ well-being both in the United States and in developing countries.  Biotech crops enable farmers to benefit economically, and at the same time, allow farmers to grow crops in a more sustainable manner.  With rising food prices and a burgeoning global population, increased crop yields provided through agricultural biotechnology provide important economic, social and environmental benefits.  A study released in 2005 by the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy found that biotech plants improved to resist herbicides and insects helped U.S. farmers reduce their annual production costs by $1.4 billion, contributing to an increase in net profits of $2 billion.  Biotech crop varieties that are designed to thrive even when grown under harsh conditions,  such as severe heat or cold, flood or drought, and soils with high levels of salt or metals enable farmers to experience a decreased rate of crop losses during situations, like a drought, which historically have taken huge financial tolls on farmers.


In developing nations, the World Bank estimates that over one-half of the labor force is employed in the agricultural sector.  Higher crop yields can boost incomes for poor farmers and feed more people in these countries.  Biotech seeds enable farmers to increase their agricultural productivity and provide a higher quality crop, which, in turn, translates into higher incomes. This cycle ultimately leads to a more consistent food supply which helps to stimulate local economies. For example, biotech cotton that is resistant to the often-devastating bollworm insect raised yields 29 percent in India, and contributed to a 78 percent increase in income for many of the country’s poorest farmers.

The ability to grow more biotech crops on less acreage also aids farmers in being good stewards of the land. The reduction in plowing made possible through biotechnology enables farmers to significantly reduce fuel use and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Studies show that biotech crops have saved farmers 441 million gallons of fuel through reduced fuel operations – which in turn resulted in eliminating nearly 10.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions since 1996. This is equivalent to removing four millions cars from the road in one year.


Looking to the Future of Biotech Foods
Over the years attitudes towards biotech foods have gradually become more favorable as people realize the environmental, economic, and nutritional benefits they can impart, and recognize the safety of these food products with respect to human health and the environment. Additionally, despite occasional reluctance from certain environmental groups, the rising food and bio-fuel demands world-wide are quickening the broader acceptance of biotech foods in the marketplace. As more and more products made through biotechnology are approved for sale, any stigmas related to biotechnology continue to lessen, as awareness increases and consumers reap the rewards of these enhanced crops and foods.





The success and final outcome of this project required a lot of guidance and assistance from many people and I am extremely privileged to have got this all along the completion of my project. All that I have done is only due to such supervision and assistance and I would not forget to thank them.

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I heartily thank our internal project guide, [Name 5], [Position] , [Department] for her/his guidance and suggestions during this project work.

I am thankful to and fortunate enough to get constant encouragement, support and guidance from all Teaching staffs of [Department name] which helped us in successfully completing our project work. Also, I would like to extend our sincere esteems to all staff in laboratory for their timely support.

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