Food and nutrition science is a field of study that involves multiple scientific disciplines, all related to the main study of food and how its different components interact with each other, and the living body. The science involved in food production can be quite extensive. This is especially true when talking about hybrid crops, such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and even foods that undergo substantial processing to become an entirely different product, like many cereals.
Those involved in food and nutrition science must have knowledge of several different scientific fields including chemistry, biology, and nutrition. Together, all of the principles learned in these areas will be used in a food scientist's work. Without a complete background in these fields, food and nutrition science cannot be fully understood. Therefore, as a prerequisite, students interested in this field must have a basic understanding of these other scientific fields of study.
For example, in order to understand how acidic or alkaline foods will affect the body, it is first necessary to understand what acid and alkalinity are, and how the human body handles these foods. It is known that blood is slightly alkaline, having a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Therefore, trying to balance foods in this level will provide the most natural intake possible for the body. Those individuals who do not have a pH-balanced diet will put pressure on the body to regulate the pH on its own, which could lead to health problems and general fatigue, as the body works to do things that would otherwise be done through proper diet.
Food scientists are also responsible for researching and developing new foods. Just as with the alkaline versus acidity issue, there are hundreds of other interactions that must be taken into account with food and nutrition science. Looking at the chemistry of a new product, and running tests on its interaction with other chemicals can be very important. While some ingredients may be seemingly inert by themselves, they could become very potent, and even dangerous, if mixed in the wrong formula.
Students interested in a career in food and nutrition science will take courses in the basic sciences, as well as advanced courses in many different food areas. Common courses for students, in addition to the basics, are food safety, food engineering, human nutrition and microbiology. Upon graduation, many food science jobs can be found with food processors and with government agencies, such as the Food & Drug Administration.