A Day in the Life of a Food Scientist: Quality Systems Manager
Maybe you've never heard of the food science field, but love food, or maybe you are a student considering food science as a career. In school, it can be difficult to choose a major if you don't understand the opportunities available to you after graduation. You might be wondering, what am I actually going to […]

Maybe you've never heard of the food science field, but love food, or maybe you are a student considering food science as a career. In school, it can be difficult to choose a major if you don't understand the opportunities available to you after graduation. You might be wondering, what am I actually going to do? How does what I learn today correlate with my future career? In this article, you can learn about the opportunities available in the field of food quality assurance.

My dear friend Bethany is the quality systems manager at a food packaging company in Illinois. I told her about her role and how she got to where she is today. Hope this information helps you learn more about the field and how the industry works to keep your food safe.

So, you graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor's degree in food science. Boiler!

Why did you choose food science? How did you find out?

“I chose food science when I was in my last year of high school. I loved to cook and eat and knew that somehow I wanted to pursue a career in the food business. During my last year, I chose to attend the local trade school in the morning, enrolled in a culinary arts course. We have learned about the industry from receiving tasks and receiving to proper food handling. 3 days a week we were a functional kitchen making lunch for downtown businesses. We swapped stations every week to see all aspects of the kitchen.

At the end of the year, I knew I didn't want to be a career leader. I have always loved to cook and eat but wanted to do something else with this passion. My instructor suggested that I look into food science. It's about seeing food in a new light. After a brief research in food science, I got hooked.

What do you like most about the field?

“I love the diversity in the different fields! Product development, quality control, production, supply chain, etc. It really goes beyond product development. "

Tell us about your career path since graduating from Purdue.

“After leaving Purdue, I took a few culinary arts courses to work on product development. Shortly after I finished school, I took a job in quality control at a large confectionery producer in Northwest Indiana. My job was to make sure what we produced was not only up to specification, but also safe to eat. I performed quantitative and qualitative tests on the product, inspected the lines between production runs, and did a bit of administrative work to make sure we were following SQF principles. SQF is an organization that sets certain rules that companies must follow to ensure that the product is safe to consume.

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After 2 years as a quality technician, I took a job as an administrative quality assurance manager with a contract manufacturer in Northwest Indiana. In this position, I guaranteed 100% compliance with SQF principles; create HACCP plans, update and create SOPs, verify and validate programs, and help the contract manufacturer work towards stricter certification under NSF for the handling of dietary supplements.

Being in this role has helped me realize that quality is my home. I entered food science with the intention of creating a food product and being able to find it in my local grocery store, but now I realize how much I need the structure and consistency that comes with working in quality control / assurance. Now, as a site quality manager for a global manufacturer of food contact packaging, I couldn't be happier with what my training has brought me.

Could you explain, in basic terms, what a quality systems manager does? What are your main responsibilities?

“A quality systems manager does just that, manages the quality systems. To remain SQF compliant, we need to put in place certain programs (chemical control, allergen control, maintenance programs, etc.). My job is to make sure that we are consistently following the guidelines in putting these programs in place and that they are achieving their goal. "

What other types of tasks do you do on a daily basis?

“On a daily basis, I review data, check paperwork and work on special projects. “Special projects” is an elegant way to say everything that is going on. I don't have a set schedule for this job, just a to-do list for a while. "

Do you travel often?

“In my current position, I made the most trips of all my previous positions. I have participated in numerous trainings and seminars, visited customers, visited suppliers and also visited other sites within our company. The number of trips will depend on the company and their willingness to send you! "

Describe how you work in relation to the other teams in your company.

"On site, we have many different teams of which I am a part, we work together to make our work environment safe, compliant and pleasant."

What university classes do you use most often?

"I use the concepts of food process engineering, food packaging and statistical process control the most."

What might your career path look like in the future? What growth opportunities do you have in your business?

“My opportunities are endless at the company I currently work for. The people in my position have become plant managers or production managers, others have gone to work with the Corporate quality team. I hope to work with Corporate one day. "

Any advice for people looking to get into the food science field?

"Don't overlook a particular area because you don't think you will like it!"

“I didn't want to do any quality control initially, I thought I wanted to be in product development all through college and my first two years on the job. Someone once told me, “Quality control is all about rules and regulations. Who wants to spend their days following the rules? Product development gives you more freedom! "

Suddenly, I realized… me. I need regulations to follow. I need a standard to make sure our programs are aligned. "


Thanks Beth for sharing your experience!

Please comment below if you have any questions for Beth or a request to learn more about another area in the domain.



Whether you regularly whip up Michelin-worthy meals at the drop of a hat or your cooking skills are best described as “fine, ” you can always benefit from the helpful little tricks of others. Here, 14 of our friends’, families’ and coworkers’ most-used cooking tips.

There’s a time and a place to whip out that complicated coq au vin recipe you’ve been dying to try. A dinner party isn’t that time. With a new recipe, you’ll likely be chained to the kitchen the whole time, plus, when you’re trying something for the first time, there’s always the possibility that it could go horribly wrong. When cooking for a group, we always err on the side of tried-and-true crowd-pleasers.

You do hours of prep work on an intricate dish, only to be totally disappointed once you taste the final product. Bummer. Instead of putting in all that effort only to be disappointed, taste while you cook. That way, you’ll realize sooner that the dish isn’t tasting how you’d like it to, and you can make all kinds of last-ditch efforts to save it. This doesn’t just work for bad-to-OK meals. Tasting midway through and realizing how perfect a dash of cayenne or a squirt of lemon juice would be can take a great dinner to legendary status.

Plating pasta means tossing some onto a plate and finishing it with a nice dollop of sauce right on the middle, right ? Wrong. Here’s how to take your carbs to the next level : On the stove there should be two pans, one with pasta and one with sauce. Cook the pasta to al dente and transfer it into the sauce. Then, add a little bit of pasta water ( literally just the starchy water the pasta has been cooking in ), which will help the sauce cling to the pasta while also keeping it the right consistency. Perfection.

In the pursuit of the perfect steak, you have to be OK with your kitchen getting a little smoky. That’s because, to get the mouthwatering sear we’re all after, the meat has to be dry and the pan should be pretty damn close to smoking hot. Trust us, it’s worth a few seconds of a blaring alarm.

Most foods are ruined by too much salt. Steak is different. When it comes to seasoning your meat ( before you cook it ), more is more. Use a generous amount of coarse Kosher salt—more than you think you need. Since most cuts of steak are pretty thick, even though you’re using a lot of salt, it’s still only covering the surface.

This one isn’t too complicated. Whether you’re making avocado toast, pizza, fried rice or a burger, the addition of a fried egg on top will not hurt your feelings. Trust us.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve definitely found ourselves in a situation where we assumed we knew all of the ingredients that went into chocolate chip cookies only to find out that we had about half the required amount of brown sugar. Ugh. tera avoid a mid-cooking grocery-store trip, read the recipe from front to back—carefully—before you start.

Prepping grains in mass quantities is less about taste than convenience. Rice, quinoa and even oatmeal last about a week in the fridge after being cooked. When we’re prepping any one of those, we double up our measurements and store the leftovers, which are then impossibly easy to use up throughout the week. Too tired to make dinner ? Heat up some leftover rice from the fridge and toss an egg on top ( remember ? ). Couldn’t be simpler.

So you fried up a pound of bacon for an indulgent ( read : delicious ) brunch. Great, just make sure you don’t throw out the grease in the pan. Instead, save it in the refrigerator or freezer ( it technically lasts for up to a year, but should be used sooner than that to take full advantage of its flavor ). Then, anytime you’re cooking something you typically prepare in oil, try cooking it in the bacon grease instead. You’ll never want to eat Brussels sprouts the old way again.

You’ve probably heard that whenever a dish is lacking a little something-something, the best thing to do is toss in some salt. But, we have it on good authority that salt isn’t always the answer. When you’re tasting a dish at the end and you think it needs a little oomph, often it just needs a splash of acid ( like lemon juice ) to round out the flavor.

You know the difference between a paring knife and a fillet knife, but do you know how to take care of them ? Or, more importantly, how to use them ? A set of good knives can be the difference between a stressful cooking experience and a great one. First, practice your knife skills. Look up tutorials on YouTube and practice chopping, slicing and julienne-ing. It’s amazing what you can do with your cook time when your prep time is shortened with solid knife skills. Then, once you’ve got your skills down pat, learn how to take care of your set. No one ever achieved kitchen greatness with a dull chef’s knife.

The key to tender, flavorful barbecue and roasts ? Cooking it on a low temperature for a long time. The same doesn’t go for roasting veggies. For crispy, perfectly cooked butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and more, remember the magic number : 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower, and you risk pulling a pan of blah carrots out of the oven. It might seem high, but to get the nice roasted flavor, you need high heat. And while we’re on the subject, stop crowding your veggies in the pan, which will also make them soggy.

You know how just about every cookie recipe suggests that you chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, but oftentimes you don’t listen because you just want cookies now ? ! ( Same. ) Unfortunately, this step actually does make a difference. In addition to limiting how much the dough spreads while baking, chilling your dough intensifies the flavors and produces that perfect chewy, crispy matière we know and love.

It won’t do your breath any favors, but never ( ever ) scrimp on garlic. In fact, we typically double the amount a recipe calls for. Apologies to anyone who was planning on kissing us.

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