More measures needed in food technology education

scientific community

Food technology is a specialized branch of science that deals with food production, processing and distribution. Early research in field of food technology was confined to food preservation. The discovery of canning process followed by formulation of pasteurization process by Louis Pasteur significantly increased the interest of scientific community in food technology paving way for further study and discovery of new methods by other scientists.

Since then the field of food technology has advanced greatly but still we face new challenges and to overcome them we require assistance food technologists. In recent decades India has witnessed significant growth in field of food processing leading to increase in demand of trained and professional food technologists to maintain the high standards of food processing. To achieve this demand Indian institutes have come up with several courses ranging from diploma, BSc, MSc, BTech and MTech in food technology for aspirants planning to enter food processing industry. India’s first institute dedicated for improvement and study of food processing technologies was CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore. It was established in 1950 with goal of producing professional food technologists to help Indian food sector, which was in premature stage after independence.

CFTRI consists of high tech laboratories for analyzing food samples and research studies as well as PhD, MSc courses in food technology along with short-term course designed such that the students get maximum exposure to methods and technologies used in food industries.

The one=year programme in Flour Milling Technology at International School of Milling Technology (ISMT ) in conjunction with CFTRI is quite noteworthy since students appearing in this course get to operate roller mills and other milling equipment giving them first-hand experience on practical front whereas there are also several study tours and well equipped library for theoretical studies.

The short-term courses offered here range from 2 to 6 days but consist of lectures and demonstrations as well as practical classes, which are conducted in the state-of-the-art laboratories and pilot plants of CFTRI. Such kind of first hand exposure of  industrial machinery and techniques not only increase the knowledge of students but also prepares them mentally for industrial work environment.

When it comes to food processing one such reputed and well-known institute is Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, also known as ICT. The BTech in Food Engineering and Technology course by ICT provides the aspirant with adequate knowledge, highly advanced research laboratory and exposure to industries, which would help them in long run. Such trained individuals are preferred by industries since they can provide fresh insight and help overcome difficulties encountered in processing.

After the completion of course student can either work in industry or pursue career as entrepreneurs in food sector. Apart from the commonly pursued food technology courses there are institutions providing certificate pro-grammes focusing on job seekers and entrepreneurs in food processing industry.

Indian Institute of Plantation Management (IIPM), Bangalore, is promoted by Ministry of Commerce and Industry for modernization of plantation sector. IIPM offers professional certificate programme for tea testing and management course which could be compelling for tea lovers.

The programme includes tasting different profile of tea, which are produced within the country andfrom other major tea producing countries. The participants get handson experience in tea tasting from the tea tasting lab at the institute and expert tasters from national and international tea tasting units. This course will help an individual to learn the details involved in tea manufacturing, sensory  evaluation and business management.

Professional Certificate Programme in food processing business management by IIPM is aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs involving theoretical and practical sessions over duration of 6 weeks. Indian food sector suffers loss in productivity and efficiency in both small-scale and large-scale industries due to lack of trained professionals Some institutes keeping this in mind have designed training programmes to produce trained work force. National Agricultural & Food Analysis & Research Institute (NAFARI), Pune, is one such training institute. The training programmes are classified into short-term and long-term courses based on duration.

Short-term course consists of training in quality control sensory evaluation, packaging, labeling, instrumentation, microbiological and chemical food analysis. All these factors play an important role in food manufacturing process and having trained professionals ensures proper functioning of these departments. Long term courses comprise of diploma in food quality and safety, vocational training in food processing and entrepreneur development programme. Post-harvest technology plays an essential role in processing of perishablefood products. In India every year there is loss in productivity in processing of raw agricultural produce because of poor supply chain management and untrained labour force.

To tackle this problem Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (formerly Paddy Processing Research Centre) was formed under the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India. IICPT offers 2 year MTech in Food Science and Technology course and 4-year BTech, 2 year MTech in Food Engineering. IICPT consists of modern laboratories equipped with hi-tech instruments along with hands-on training on different food processing technologies. Carmel College for Women was established in 1964. The college is permanently affiliated to Goa University in the faculties of Arts, Science, and Commerce.  

It has A Grade by the NAAC, which is an autonomous body appointed by the University Grants Commission. Carmel College has recently started a job oriented 1 year post-graduate diploma course in nutraceuticals and food processing. The course is also available for boys. It  contains staff from reputed institute and has high-tech food and chemistry lab. The School of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Belapur, Navi Mumbai, a constituent unit of Padmashree Dr D Y Patil University was established in June 2003. It consists of a 4 year BTech and 2 year MSc in food science and technology along with highly qualified staff and well equipped food laboratory. There are hundreds of food technology institutes in India but only a handful of them provide with industry ready candidates in current scenario either due to lack of food processing technologies or outdated and irrelevant theory syllabus.

There is a need to increase the number of institutes with state-of-the-art food laboratories containing food processing technologies so that students could get hands-on experience. In many instances due to lack of communication between food technology institutes and food processing industries most of the research studies carried out by students never find any application in food industries.

Arranging seminars and sharing the information on research studies between students and professionals from industries can overcome this. Food technology institutes must also update their theory syllabus following the latest trend and technologies in food sector.

The institutes need to encourage or provide their students with more internship opportunities during academic period so that they can learn and get familiarized to industries. Institutes can co-ordinate with food processing industries to arrange industrial visit for students. All these steps should be implemented in order to produce industry ready candidates from institutions.

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