Food Science

FOOD SCIENCE

If your fascination with food reaches way beyond shopping and meal prep, you can level up with UBC’s Food Science major. Here, you will discover the chemistry and microbiology of food, how it is engineered, its nutritional and sensory properties and how it is processed for consumption. Dig deep into food safety, quality assurance and product development. Integrate theory and practice with extensive laboratory exposure and examine how land, food and community fit together.

What You Need to Know

Food Science is taught by passionate, skilled researchers and teachers who collectively bring their disciplinary expertise, instructional skills and industry experience into the classroom. The Food Science degree is ideal for those who want to parlay their passion for sciences into a career that explores the science of food. Furthermore, UBC offers the only Food Science Bachelor of Science degree in British Columbia.

IFT Logo

UBC’s Food Science major has the added distinction of being approved by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the internationally-respected governing body that sets the standards in Food Science education. As a UBC Food Science student, you are eligible to apply for Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) scholarships and other food science-specific student funding. Additionally, you will have access to IFT Student Association events and opportunities to collaborate with peers across North America.

In Food Science, you will apply knowledge from the fields of chemistry, biology and engineering to foods. You will learn how foods change during processing, how food preservation works and how to assess the sensory qualities of food. In line with industry changes, our major is placing increasing emphasis on quality control, food safety and sustainability. On top of this deep disciplinary foundation, you will build essential workplace skills through practical laboratory experiences, collaborative work and industry-specific written and oral communication.

During your studies you will have the opportunity to be involved in industry mentoring programs, community partnerships, career development events and site visits, each of which will hone your ability to collaborate with industry professionals. Food Science is a small major within LFS, which means your instructors function much like mentors as you plan your career trajectory.

In Food Science, you will take a combination of required courses, restricted electives (courses you select from a curated list of approved electives) and unrestricted electives (from amongst UBC’s courses that you are eligible to take). Initially, you’ll build a solid science foundation and then take a broad range of Food Science courses to build a comprehensive understanding of the field. Food Science students have the option to enrol in Co-op, a double major, a minor and a dual degree with the UBC Sauder School of Business. More information on these options is available under the Degree Options tab above.

First Year

  • LFS 100 Introduction to Land, Food & Community
  • LFS 150 Scholarly Writing and Argumentation in Land and Food Systems
  • BIOL 112 Biology of the Cell
  • BIOL 121 Genetics, Evolution & Ecology
  • BIOL 155 Human Biology: Physiology & Introductory Anatomy
  • CHEM 121 Chemical Structure & Bonding
  • CHEM 123 Thermodynamics, Kinetics & Organic Chemistry
  • MATH 102 Differential Calculus with Applications to Life Sciences
  • MATH 103 Integral Calculus with Applications to Life Sciences
  • PHYS 101 Energy & Waves

Second Year

  • FNH 200 Exploring Our Food
  • FNH 250 Nutrition Concepts and Controversies
  • LFS 250 Land, Food, and Community I: Introduction to Food Systems & Sustainability
  • LFS 252 Land, Food, and Community: Quantitative Data Analysis
  • BIOL 200 Fundamentals of Cell Biology
  • BIOL 201 Introduction to Biochemistry
  • CHEM 205 Physical Chemistry
  • CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry for the Biological Sciences
  • CHEM 235 Organic Chemistry Laboratory
  • MICB 202 Introductory Medical Microbiology & Immunology

Third Year

  • FNH 300: Principles of Food Engineering
  • FNH 301: Food Chemistry
  • FNH 302: Food Analysis
  • FNH 303: Food Product Development
  • FNH 309: Food Process Science
  • FNH 313: Food Microbiology
  • FNH 325: Food Science Laboratory I
  • FNH 326: Food Science Laboratory II
  • LFS 350: Land, Food, and Community II: Principles and Practice of Community Food Security
  • BIOC 302: General Biochemistry
  • MICB 353: Food Microbiology Laboratory

Fourth Year

  • FNH 403: Food Laws, Regulations & Quality Assurance
  • FNH 413: Food Safety
  • FNH 425: Food Science Laboratory III
  • 1 Business Elective
  • 3 Restricted Electives
  • 2 Unrestricted Electives

The UBC Academic Calendar includes course descriptions for all FNH courses and full details of required courses for the Food Science major.

Co-op

Augment your studies with full-time, relevant work by applying your academic skills in food-related employment settings. Food Science graduates consistently listed Co-op placements as a highly valuable component of their education. Application details are available on the Science Co-op pages.

Double Major

The Food and Nutritional Sciences double major combines the core degree requirements of both the Food Science major and the Nutritional Sciences major. You will learn about food chemistry, analysis, quality and safety alongside the nutritional composition of food, nutrient metabolism and nutrient impact on human health. More information on this option is available on the Double Major page.

Minors

You may choose to supplement your Food Science major with a minor, which involves taking courses in a subject area outside of your specialization. As a Food, Nutrition and Health student, you are eligible to apply for a minor in Arts, Commerce, Science, Fermentations, Sustainable Food Systems or Kinesiology. Learn more about minors, including application timelines, on the LFS Minor page.

Dual Degree with Master of Management

If you are interested in complementing your LFS degree with a strong foundation in management, consider applying for the Bachelor of Science (Food, Nutrition and Health) – Master of Management Dual Degree. Admission to this degree is primarily available to students coming directly out of high school. Depending on enrolment, the UBC Sauder School of Business may release a limited number of spaces on a competitive basis to students who are going into their third year at UBC. Learn more about this dual-degree option and how to apply in the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration section of the UBC Academic Calendar.

The UBC Academic Calendar is the authoritative source for degree requirements and course equivalencies. Please refer to it throughout your degree prior to making course selections. The Academic Calendar also contains information about minors offered and course requirements to assist with course planning.

The heavy science emphasis and extensive laboratory work make the Food Science curriculum a challenging one. Students who commute, have part-time jobs or other significant responsibilities may wish to take summer courses to help spread out their course load. While summer offerings differ each year, some courses are consistently offered between May and August. FNH 200 and 250 are available in the summer term, as are many courses offered through the Faculty of Science.

As a Food Science student, your unrestricted electives can be chosen from UBC’s extensive course selection. In consultation with a faculty advisor, restricted electives are chosen from a curated list of courses in sustainability, business, science, food science specializations and nutrition. More information is available on the LFS restricted electives page.

Sample Electives

  • FNH 330: Introduction to Wine Science I
  • FNH 342: Critical Perspectives on Consumer Food Practices
  • FNH 350: Fundamentals of Nutrition
  • FNH 351: Vitamins, Minerals and Health
  • FNH 402: Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals
  • FNH 405: Microbiology of Food and Beverage Fermentation
  • FNH 415: Business Concepts in Food, Nutrition and Health

The Food Science major is competitive, which means you will need to apply if you wish to be considered. Both your academic performance and a letter of intent will be assessed when determining your fit for this major. You can find details about admission requirements and timelines in the UBC Academic Calendar.

If you are a college or university student interested in pursuing this major at UBC, you should apply for both the Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Health and the Food Science Major.

If you are a high school student interested in pursuing this major at UBC, you should first apply for the Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Health. Once within the FNH program, you can apply to Food Science as early as the end of Year 1. Applications for competitive majors are due by March 31st each year.

Visualizing your courses, prerequisites, timing and how they all fit together can be a challenge. These flow charts can help you to get a sense of what subjects are studied and when, courses whose content is aligned, and prerequisite requirements. These diagrams were prepared by a Food Science undergraduate student on a WorkLearn placement, one of many ways to build transferable skills during your degree.
Food Science flowchart simplified Food Science Flow Chart (simplified)

Food Science flowchart Food Science Flow Chart (detailed)

The Food Science major is a professional degree approved by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), an association that evaluates undergraduate Food Science programs to ensure they attain IFT’s high standards. Recognized worldwide, IFT certification demonstrates your competency to potential employers upon graduation. To amplify your learning, IFT provides student leadership opportunities, competitions, scholarships and internships. UBC’s Food Science faculty have a strong relationship with IFT’s education division. More information on these opportunities is available on the IFT website or by contacting Dr. Patricia Hingston.

IFT undergraduate program requirements

IFT Logo

The Institute of Food Technologists sets standards for IFT-approved undergraduate Food Science degrees. They require foundational knowledge in chemistry, physics, mathematics, biological sciences, nutrition, statistics, and oral and written communication. For food science-specific courses, IFT’s essential learning outcomes (ELOs) indicate the knowledge and skills required for program approval. Full details of IFT’s undergraduate guidelines are available as a brief report.

In addition to meeting the IFT ELOs, UBC’s Food Science degree covers additional content to help set our graduates apart. In response to industry needs, we include competencies in business, sanitation, product development and sustainability.

The structure and properties of food components (water, carbohydrates, protein, lipids, other components and food additives); the chemistry of changes occurring during processing, storage, and utilization.

Upon completion of the required course work in this topical area, students will be able to:

   FC.1. Discuss the major chemical reactions that limit shelf life of foods.
   FC.2. Explain the chemistry underlying the properties and reactions of various food components.
   FC.3. Apply food chemistry principles used to control reactions in foods.
   FC.4. Demonstrate laboratory techniques common to basic and applied food chemistry.
   FC.5. Demonstrate practical proficiency in a food analysis laboratory.
   FC.6. Explain the principles behind analytical techniques associated with food.
   FC.7. Evaluate the appropriate analytical technique when presented with a practical problem.
   FC.8. Design an appropriate analytical approach to solve a practical problem.

Microorganisms in food including beneficial, pathogenic, and spoilage; the influence of the food system on their growth, survival, and control.
Upon completion of the required course work in this topical area, students will be able to:

   FM.1. Identify relevant beneficial, pathogenic, and spoilage microorganisms in foods and the conditions under which they grow.

   FM.2. Describe the conditions under which relevant pathogens are destroyed or controlled in foods.

   FM.3. Apply laboratory techniques to identify microorganisms in foods.

   FM.4. Explain the principles involved in food preservation via fermentation processes.

   FM.5. Discuss the role and significance of adaptation and environmental factors (e.g., water activity, pH, temperature) on growth response and inactivation of microorganisms in various environments.

   FM.6. Choose relevant laboratory techniques to identify microorganisms in foods.

Hazards (physical, chemical, biological) associated with foods and the food system; their transmission and control.

Upon completion of the required course work in this topical area, students will be able to:

   FS.1. Identify potential hazards and food safety issues in specific foods.

   FS.2. Describe routes of physical, chemical, and biological contamination of foods.

   FS.3. Discuss methods for controlling physical, chemical and biological hazards.

   FS.4. Evaluate the conditions, including sanitation practices, under which relevant pathogenic microorganisms are commonly controlled in foods.

   FS.5. Select appropriate environmental sampling techniques.

   FS.6. Design a food safety plan for the manufacture of a specific food.

Food engineering principles; food preservation and processing; packaging materials and methods; cleaning and sanitation; water and waste management.

Upon completion of the required course work in this topical area, students will be able to:

   FE.1. Define principles of food engineering (mass and heat transfer, fluid flow, thermodynamics).

   FE.2. Formulate mass and energy balances for a given food manufacturing process.

   FE.3. Explain the source and variability of raw food materials and their impact on food processing operations.

   FE.4. Design processing methods that make safe, high-quality foods.

   FE.5. Use unit operations to produce a given food product in a laboratory or pilot plant.

   FE.6. Explain the effects of preservation and processing methods on product quality.

   FE.7. List properties and uses of various packaging materials and methods.

   FE.8. Describe principles and practices of cleaning and sanitation in food processing facilities.

   FE.9. Define principles and methods of water and waste management.

Analytical and affective methods of assessing sensory properties of food.

Upon completion of the required course work in this topical area, students will be able to:

   SS.1. Discuss the physiological and psychological basis for sensory evaluation.

   SS.2. Apply experimental designs and statistical methods to sensory studies.

   SS.3. Select sensory methodologies to solve specific problems in food.

Principles of food quality control and assurance.

Upon completion of the required course work in this topical area, students will be able to:

   QA.1. Define food quality and food safety terms.

   QA.2. Apply principles of quality assurance and control.

   QA.3. Develop standards and specifications for a given food product.

   QA.4. Evaluate food quality assessment systems (e.g. statistical process control).

Government regulations required for the manufacture and sale of food products.

Upon completion of the required course work in this topical area, students will be able to:

   FL.1. Recall government regulatory frameworks required for the manufacture and sale of food products.

   FL.2. Describe the processes involved in formulating food policy.

   FL.3. Locate sources of food laws and regulations.

   FL.4. Examine issues related to food laws and regulations.

Collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data.

Upon completion the required course work and additional research activities provided from the program, students will be able to:

   DS.1. Use statistical principles in food science applications.

   DS.2. Employ appropriate data collection and analysis technologies.

   DS.3. Construct visual representation of data.

Scientific reasoning through uncertainty in scientific and technical situations.

Upon completion of the required course work and additional activities provided from the program, students will be able to:

   CT.1. Locate evidence-based scientific information resources.

   CT.2. Apply critical thinking skills to solve problems.

   CT.3. Apply principles of food science in practical, real-world situations and problems.

   CT.4. Select appropriate analytical techniques when presented with a practical problem.

   CT.5. Evaluate scientific information.

Oral and written communication.

Upon completion of the required course work and additional activities provided from the program, students will be able to:

   CM.1. Write relevant technical documents.

   CM.2. Create oral presentations.

   CM.3. Assemble food science information for a variety of audiences.

Organization and project management; skills necessary to work and interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Upon completion of the required course work and additional and leadership activities provided from the program, students will be able to:

   PL.1. Demonstrate the ability to work independently and in teams.

   PL.2. Discriminate tasks to achieve a given outcome.

   PL.3. Describe social and cultural competence relative to diversity and inclusion.

   PL.4. Discuss examples of ethical issues in food science.

The food industry is a rapidly changing environment and one of the most important global industries. Food Science graduates will be needed in innovative product development roles working with plant-based substitutions and other novel ingredients. Rising standards in food safety and quality control require graduates who can apply these standards while addressing sustainability standards. A recent survey of alumni and employers indicated a need for food scientists in nearly all areas of the industry – research and development, regulation, quality control, food safety, processing, food marketing and management.

These inspiring video clips summarize a day in the life of a food regulation specialist and a food packaging professional.

Where Can a UBC Food Science Degree Take You?

Jobs in the food science sector are varied and fascinating. Consider these short- and long-term career options:

  • Food analysis technician
  • Quality assurance manager
  • Product development specialist
  • HACCP coordinator
  • Research and development technologist
  • Laboratory quality control supervisor
  • Regulatory manager
  • Flavour scientist
  • Food processing inspector
  • Sensory panel manager
  • Product development entrepreneur

How about a bio of alumnus Peter Higgins, whose degree in Food Science powered him on his path to becoming the president of Purdy’s?

Or Jennifer Martin, whose UBC Food Science degree opened doors at Heinz and Loblaws, and whose own line of botanical-based sodas now stock the shelves at Whole Foods.

Get a head start on your career-related work experience while you’re at UBC. Check out What You Can Do With a Food Science major here, and scroll through our job board for postings that relate to your field of study.

Professional Associations

Professional associations aren’t just for those working in the industry, they are outstanding resources for students too. Most associations have positions for student representatives where you can grow your leadership skills and expand your network. Some memberships are free for UBC Food Science students while others require an annual fee.

UBC Food Science Club

Connect with peers by joining the student-run UBC Food Science Club, a chapter of the IFT Student Association. The club enables participation in IFTSA international opportunities and organizes educational events for students to attend. Food plant tours, food-making workshops and food science trivia nights are examples of past events. For more information, contact the UBC Food Science club student leadership and subscribe to the club’s social media accounts:

Got Questions?

If you are a prospective or current student with questions about planning for or choosing this major, or if you have questions about how your transfer credits apply, get in touch! One of our academic advisors in LFS Student Services will be glad to help you.

If you are already in the Food Science major and have specific questions about restricted electives and Directed Studies, please contact your program advisor, Dr. Vivien Measday.

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