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GUIDANCE PLUS

Carving a career in food technology

B.S. WARRIER

CFTRI generates and applies knowledge of food science and food technology for optimal conservation and utilisation of the food resources in the country.

Photo: M. A. SRIRAM

Key role: A view of the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) in Mysore, Karnataka.

Food is the first among the basic needs of man; clothing and shelter come later. The extent of food processing in a country is a reliable indicator of its economic progress and prosperity. In India, only less than 10 per cent of the food items are processed, as against a figure of 60 per cent to 80 per cent in developed countries. The food market turnover in India is estimated at Rs. 2,500 billion. The growth of our food processing industry is roughly 15 per cent. The food processing industry contributes around 13 per cent of the country's exports.

All these statistics bring to light the tremendous career opportunities in this sector. Application of the right technology and scientific research are essential ingredients of healthy growth in the food industry. Vegetables, specialty processing, soft drinks, refrigeration and thermo processing, packaging, packaged / convenience food, milk and milk products, meat and poultry, grain, fruits, frozen food, fisheries, dairy processing, canning, perishables, and beverages are some of the areas that deserve attention for research and improvement.

The disciplines that govern food technology include biochemistry, nutrition, chemistry of food, food engineering, industrial microbiology, biochemical engineering, infestation control and pesticides, packaging technology, principles of food processing, technology of food (meat, fish and poultry products), food plant organisation and management.

CFTRI

A centre of research excellence in this discipline is the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore - 570 020; Phone: 0821-2515910; Web site: www.cftri.com

CFTRI generates and applies knowledge of food science and food technology for the optimal conservation and utilisation of the food resources in the country. It not only plays a vital role in research, but helps in adding value and utility to agro-resources.

It contributes to sustained development, food security, and food safety.

Knowledge dissemination and technology transfer are some of the key attributes of the institute.

Thrust areas

The main thrust areas of research in the various departments are indicated below, so as to offer an opportunity for prospective research students to identify and select areas that are close to their heart.

Biochemistry and nutrition

Glycobiology of diabetic nephropathy and atherosclerosis, nutraceutical potential of spices, nutritional biochemistry including bioavailability of micronutrients, carotenoids and their health benefits, neuro-ameleorative propensity of phytochemicals, food carbohydrates and their degrading enzymes, bioactives from dietary sources, omega-3 fatty acids and their health benefits, proteins and enzymes, food allergy and immunology, cancer and ulcer biology. Development and evaluation of speciality and therapeutic foods including foods for infants, vision and diabetics.

Fermentation technologies and bioengineering

Microbial and enzymatic protocols/ processes for the production of probiotics, neutraceuticals and bio-active molecules, development of bio-sensors, bio-remediation of pesticides.

Food engineering

Scale-up of processes developed in the institute and their commercial implementation, design of plant and new machinery for these processes, selection and installation of new machinery, development of processes and generating data on engineering parameters, new and high-tech food processing technologies, super critical extraction, membrane processing, molecular distillation, extrusion, aqueous two phase extraction, reverse micellar extraction, osmotic dehydration. IR, microwave and RF radiation.

Flour milling, baking, and confectionery technologies

Wheat milling and baking, health bakery products, traditional products, rheology of wheat flour dough and by-product utilization.

Food microbiology

Microbial processes, adoption of sophisticated genetic, molecular biological, and biochemical techniques for gaining high-resolution insights into fundamental microbial processes, manipulating microorganisms to achieve objectives.

Packaging technology

Functional and economical unit packaging for marketing of processed food products, shelf life evaluation of packaged food products, testing of packaging materials for barrier and strength properties, and prediction of shelf life of moisture sensitive foods under varying packaging and storage conditions.

In-package thermal processes for shelf-stable ready-to-eat meal and meal components, extending shelf life of traditional Indian foods using hurdle technology, retail packaging and shipping containers, development of bio-degradable / eco-friendly packaging materials.

Food protectants and infestation control

Post-harvest problems of infestation in stored food grains, spices and processed food, pest control in households/ food processing units, and prophylactic measures, science and technology of fumigation of cereals and pulses oilseeds, coffee, tobacco, and spices, generating data on pesticide formulations for registration, mammalian toxicity and residue certification.

Food safety and analytical quality control laboratory

Quality and safety attributes of agricultural and food products, including cereal / fruit / vegetable / dairy products, oilseeds and oils, spices and condiments, animal products, plantation products and flavours, functional food, processed food and beverages, food analysis with high degree of accuracy.

Determination of proximate composition (moisture, protein, fat, carbohydrates, crude fibre and minerals), nutritional analysis, analysis of food additives (preservatives, synthetic colours, artificial sweeteners, antioxidants), analysis of food contaminants (heavy metals, pesticides, aflatoxins) and microbiological safety.

Fruit and vegetable technology

Technologies for extension of shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables, pre and post-harvest technology protocols for fresh fruits and vegetables, development of processes and value-added products from fruits / vegetables, economic utilization of processing wastes, production and processing of mushrooms, under the key concept of biodegradation and bioconversion of agro-residues into useful forms of food

Grain science technology

Basic and applied research on chemistry, quality and technology of cereals, millets, and pulses, their products, development and application of technologies for conservation, value addition and product diversification of grains, Dhal milling technology.

Human resource development

HRD programmes in the area of food science and technology. CFTRI offers a four-semester M.Sc. degree programme in food technology, and an M.Sc. programme in food science by research for in-service employees of recognised institutions.

Lipid science and traditional foods

Lipid: Any one of a large group of organic compounds that are oily to the touch and insoluble in water, but soluble in non-polar organic solvents. They include fatty acids, oils, waxes, sterols, and triglycerides. They are a source of stored energy. The focus of research is on the processes and technologies to help in enlarging the vegetable oil pools, developing suitable processes and technologies for traditional or convenience food products/ snack food / low-sugar confection, and kinetics of oil deterioration during frying conditions.

Meat, fish, and poultry technology

Hygienic status, quality improvements, product development, convenience and value addition to meat / fish / poultry, and upgradation of by-products / waste from processing of meat, / fish / poultry.

Plant cell biotechnology

Biotechnology, plant tissue culture, food additives and plant improvement, bio-mass production of Spirulina, Dunaliella.

Micro-propagation of endangered plants, and economically important crops such as red beet, stevia, vanilla, coffee, annatto;genetic markers in banana ripening.

Protein chemistry and technology

Proteins with special emphasis on plant proteins, enzymes of relevance to food processing and bioactive peptides; development of functional foods based on oilseeds; production of bioactive peptides and molecules to address metabolic disorders and lifestyle related diseases; nanotechnologies for nutrient delivery; nutrigenomics and designer foods.

Plantation products, spices and flavour technology

Spices, coffee, tea, cocoa, natural food colours and flavours; new product development; custom synthesis of flavourants; Process optimization and shelf-life studies.

Sensory science

Sensory analysis, threshold determinations, profiling products, product comparisons, product matching, shelf life studies, product/ process optimisation, instrumental analysis for colour, flavour, and texture.

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