What Does a Food Engineer Do?

What Does a Food Engineer Do

One of the many fields of engineering which finds itself being multidisciplinary is food engineering. It is quite an interesting career, as it blends together multiple different fields, such as microbiology and chemistry, all into one.

Food engineers find themselves holding the responsibility of making sure that food is processed safely and efficiently, and they also handle the process of packaging food and then delivering it to stores around the world.

Keep reading to learn more about this often-overlooked job that is vital to our daily lives. There are many interesting things that food engineers do that are key to getting food to the people.

Food Engineers and Their Importance

What is a Food Engineer?

Food engineers are some of the most important types of engineers that are out there. While not many people are even aware of their existence, the simple fact is that without them we would not be able to enjoy things as simple as groceries!

The field that food engineers specialize in is known as food engineering. Food engineering itself is actually one of the most involved fields out of all of the engineering branches, seeing as it combines so many different disciplines into one.

Some of these disciplines include fields such as microbiology and chemistry, but other fields like different physical sciences also find their way into this line of work, and all are applied in order to bring safer and more efficient methods to the industry as a whole.

The Many Responsibilities of Food Engineers

As you may have guessed from their name, food engineers take the principles that apply to engineering and related fields and apply them to food. Through various means such as the processing and storage of food, all the way to the distribution of food have engineering principles applied to them by food engineers.

Principles that are taken from the various fields of engineering are utilized and used to help make innovations to the way that food is stored in both the warehouses as well as the stores in which they are to be delivered to.

In addition to this, food engineers will find ways to make the processing of these foods more efficient as well as safe, in order to cut on costs for companies and manufacturers while also ensuring that consumers are able to get a safer and more cost-effective product.

The responsibilities of a food engineer do not stop there. In fact, they are also responsible for finding new and more effective means of distributing food materials and other related products to their destinations. Just like the other two responsibilities that food engineers hold, this one is meant to increase efficiency as well as safety.

In short, food engineers are the individuals who ensure that the shelves of grocery stores are always fully stocked with goods. Be it canned foods, bagged foods, or those in boxes, food engineers are the ones who make sure it gets to its destination timely and efficiently so that we may enjoy the foods we crave safely and conveniently.

Food engineers actually often tend to work quite closely with other disciplines that handle food, these include those who are working careers as food scientists as well as food technologists. Through this interaction, they are able to improve the various ways that food is handled and delivered to stores.

The previously mentioned two disciplines that food engineers work closely with, those being food scientists and food technologists, mainly only focus on studying food as a science. Food engineers, on the other hand, focus on the way that food is packaged, coming up with new and innovative ways for this to be done so as to improve efficiency and safety.

Food engineers also differ from these two other disciplines as they focus more on the processing techniques used for various foods. Again, they aim to expedite the way that food is processed, and steadily improve the way that this is done.

Lastly, they handle the quality of the foods throughout the supply chain. This may include checking how food is handled throughout the supply chain while coming up with new methods and systems which can reduce overhandling and the risk of health hazards.

Some specific jobs of a food engineer include working with the machines that food is processed, packaged, and manufactured on. When working with these machines, food engineers try to find any aspects of the machines in which they can improve upon.

These improvements may come in the form of increased efficiency in the way that food is processed or packaged, meaning that the procedure may become faster due to some tweaks or changes made by a food engineer.

Other improvements may come in the form of safety for the employees and workers who are handling the food and machines which process the food. By making adjustments to the machines that are used by food processing employees, food engineers can reduce the risk of incidents happening in the workplace.

Food engineers are also known to work with the storage systems that are used for holding foodstuffs. As with many other things, they will work to design new storage units as well as improve upon those which are already present.

Their responsibilities do not stop there, though. Food engineers are also able to closely work with the trucks that are used for the transport of food and food products. Because many transport trucks feature some form of refrigeration system, food engineers can be called on to find new means of refrigerating food for transport.

Either by improving upon pre-existent technology, or coming up with entirely new refrigeration techniques and refrigeration systems, food engineers are able to constantly bring improvements to the transportation aspect of food.

In general, food engineers are the individuals who are responsible for designing the means that are to be used in the processing and handling of food, as well as the packaging of it, while also handling the design of the equipment and systems that are used to store the food.

More duties that are held by food engineers include scaling up prototypes of food processes, as well as machinery that food is to be used on, and the equipment used to store and process the food.

Food engineers also find themselves conducting research for the food products and processes used, and also the various means of development that can be used.

Another duty that is quite heavy upon the shoulders of food engineers is that they need to regulate and protect the health of consumers. It is not a job that is to be taken lightly, as the public’s health is at stake.

By making constant improvements to safety and cleanliness throughout the various processes of the supply chain, food engineers can ensure that any food products ship contain no ill-effects to public health.

And lastly, food engineers are responsible for technical sales and general engineering techniques that are put to use throughout all of their previously discussed areas of responsibility.

How to Become a Food Engineer

Should one wish to become a food engineer themselves, they will first need to earn a bachelor’s degree. While this degree can come in the form of a specialized degree in food engineering, it is known that some employers do not require the individual to have such a specific degree in order to work as a food engineer.

Aspiring food engineers may find themselves able to gain degrees in related fields such as agricultural technology, agricultural engineering, chemistry, or other related engineering fields, as these should adequately equip the individuals with the needed knowledge and skills to become a food engineer.

For earning an advanced position in their line of work, aspirants will be required to hold a degree for more advanced studies. This may come in the form of a graduate degree such as a master’s or doctoral.

After earning one of these degrees, food engineers will be able to see their prospects open up and a rise in position and salary increase will be quite attainable.


Although many people do not know that food engineers even exist, without them we would not be able to enjoy food and foodstuffs the way that we do today. 

They are responsible for many different duties such as the processing and packing of food, all the way to the transportation and storage of the food. Truly, without these individuals we would not be able to have grocery shelves filled with the food that we want to consume.

Jonathan Holmes

Jonathan Holmes is a writer for HKS Siblab, an education and business blog. He has a MSc in Cyber Security & Digital Forensics from the University of Hertfordshire and has been working in the cyber security industry since 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing guitar and spending time with his family.

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