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Are you interested in studying food chemistry?

Food chemists are university-trained experts in a special field of chemistry who are primarily committed to consumer protection. They use predominantly chemical-analytical methods, but also biochemical and microbiological processes. Their primary aims are to

  • determine the composition of raw and processed foods, most of which are very complex in structure, and to continually expand our knowledge of them
  • analyse the reactions of food compounds during storage, preparation and processing on a commercial and industrial scale and to use this knowledge to continuously improve the quality of products
  • test additives of their nature, purity and action and ensure their optimal and safe use
  • detect undesirable natural components, residual traces and contaminants in food and drinking water and to identify and eliminate the sources of possible contamination
  • dontinuously develop the available methods, especially for trace analysis, and their performance in order to obtain measurement data that is as reliable and meaningful as possible
  • comprehensively assess these test results in terms of food and environmental law.

STUDY PROGRAMME CONTENT & PROFESSION OF A FOOD CHEMIST WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM MY STUDIES?

The professional title "food chemist" is protected by law. In each federal state, the education is regulated by state Examination Regulations. Throughout Germany, students have to complete an 8-semester university course and a practical year as well as two Staatsexamen (state exams). After four semesters of basic studies in chemistry, the main studies in the following four semesters focus on::

  • Chemistry, Analysis and Technology of Food, Drinking Water, Consumer Goods
  • Biochemistry
  • Nutritional Science
  • Chemical Toxicology
  • Microbiology and Food Hygiene
  • Ecological Chemistry and Environmental Protection
  • Food Law and Administrative Law.

The study guide provides a comparative overview of the all the locations in Germany where you can study food chemistry. You can download the study guide for all locations as pdf here.
At this point, we would also like to mention "Chemie Studieren", (Studying Chemistry), a site of the GDCh with information about studying food chemistry (among others).

After completing the first Staatsexamen, students often continue directly with the practical year (PJ), during which they deepen their knowledge in a State Lab or other comparable institutions and apply their skills to practical problems. In many federal states, the study programme is referred to as the first Staatsexamen and the practical year as the second Staatsexamen. Graduates will often also choose to do their doctoral studies in the field of food chemistry. No matter if you choose to do the PJ, your PhD, both of them, or decide to work directly after completing your studies, there are various jobs out there waiting for you. Whereas the "traditional food chemist" used to be obliged to do the PJ, today each graduate can choose between the possible combinations of additional qualifications - all of them are in demand on the labour market.

What exactly does a food chemist do?

Food chemists are experts in developing suitable standards for assessing the quality of food as well as its possible contamination, from e.g. production processes or the environment. In the field of food production, they ensure the optimal quality of products, while in the field of food control, they are responsible for detecting falsifications as well as misleading and deceiving information.

Both fields share the common goal of protecting consumers from substances in food that are dangerous to our health. This does not only apply to food, including drinking water, alcoholic beverages or tobacco products, but also to cosmetics, and items of daily use, that come into contact with humans or food, e.g. dishes, packaging materials, detergents and cleaning agents, or toys. Food chemists are qualified to do analytical investigations and quality assurance of these items as well as evaluate the findings according to legal requirements and toxicological criteria.

STRUCTURE OF THE STUDY PROGRAMME WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE PROGRAMME?

As the training for food chemists is regulated by the German state Training Program and Examination Regulations of the individual federal states, there are some differences in the study programmes, depending on the university. Our study guide provides information on the individual details of the study regulations at the different food chemistry institutes and takes a look at which research areas are focused on. Our study guide provides detailed information about the study regulations of the respective institutes as well as their established research areas. The study guide.

In addition, you can order the free brochure "Merkblatt für Studienbewerber und Studenten der Lebensmittelchemie" (information sheet for food chemistry applicants and students) from the GDCh (Ms Bürger: n.buerger@gdch.de). You just have to provide your address. This brochure is primarily addressed to high school graduates who are interested in studying food chemistry and learning more about the profession.

Basic studies

The basic studies are for the most part very similar to the chemistry study programme. During this time, you learn the foundations of chemical understanding as well as analytical work by completing laboratory courses. The preliminary examinations required to be admitted to the main course of study are usually held after the fourth semester.

The 4-semester basic study programme includes lectures in general, inorganic, analytical, organic and physical chemistry as well as biology, mathematics for natural scientists, and physics. These are often accompanied by tutorials for more in-depth knowledge. The lectures provide you with basic knowledge for the labs in inorganic, analytical, organic and physical chemistry, physics and biology. Throughout the programme, the students’ learning success is often tested during accompanying examination discussions ("colloquia") or written examinations. In addition, you take introductory courses in chemicals legislation and toxicology, so you can obtain official authorisation to place chemicals on the market in the future.

Main course of study

During the four-semester main course of study, you deepen the knowledge you acquired during their basic studies by applying your skills in various laboratory courses. The main focus of the training here lies on the methods of instrumental analysis. In addition to the analysis of food and consumer goods, the areas of nutritional science, biochemistry, toxicology, food technology and food law form an important part of the programme.

The main studies are specifically tailored to the requirements of future tasks food chemist have to perform in their jobs and provides above all the knowledge and practical skills required to do this. The second exam component is completed with the first Staatsexamen. In order to register, you have to submit proof of academic achievement.

Practical year

The study programme, which is usually completed with the first Staatsexamen, is followed by a practical year at a State Lab or a comparable institution. During this time, you learn the principles for the legal control of food, cosmetics, tobacco products and consumer goods. The practical year is completed with the second Staatsexamen.ng.

AND WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MY STUDIES? WHAT ARE THE FIELDS OF ACTIVITY FOR FOOD CHEMISTS?

As food chemists are responsible for analyses and assessments as part of official food control, they are usually employed in chemical laboratories of the federal states, and sometimes of cities and the Bundeswehr (German armed forces); in addition, there are positions at ministries and enforcement authorities.

Freelance food chemists who work in private commercial laboratories counsel manufacturers, importers and retailers by carrying out analyses and legal assessments of their goods. If they decide to work as commercial chemists or experts in food chemistry, they are usually appointed by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and approved by the federal state authority for the analysis of cross-checks.

In the food sector as well as in the cosmetics and consumer goods industry, food chemists perform a wide range of tasks in research and development laboratories and are usually legally responsible for all control functions and the quality of the products.

In the area of food research food chemists work at university institutes, where students also receive their training, as well as at research institutions of the government or the food sector.

In addition, there are numerous other fields of activity in laboratories and research institutions in the areas of drinking water, the environment (waste water, air and soil), agriculture, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, chemical toxicology, forensic analysis and clinical chemistry, in other words, wherever the food chemist's specialist expertise in the analysis of complex substrates and the evaluation of results is required.

In the Food Chemical Society, food chemists from all these various fields of activity come together to collaborate.

Institutions in Germany

Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment
Food Federation Germany
German Association for Nutrition
Food Chemists in Public Service. (BLC)

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