A flavorist is a research scientist who develops artificial and natural flavors for foods. Flavorists usually have degrees in chemistry, biochemistry, or food science. A flavorist needs to be familiar with the methods in which sensory organs such as the mouth, the tongue and the nose detect particles of food, so this field requires chemical and biological knowledge.
Flavorists save a company money by producing flavors which are very difficult to produce by other methods. According to Florida State University, one of the first popular synthetic flavors is synthetic vanilla. Food manufacturers could not cheaply purchase the vanilla bean to add flavor to foods, and artificial vanilla flavor provides an extract which includes one of the main components of vanilla flavor, vanillin.
Flavorists are not limited to careers in the food industry. Companies that manufacture cosmetics, hair care products, skin creams and other products hire flavorists to make sure that their products produce a pleasant smell. Flavorists also change the taste of pharmaceutical products, as some medicines have bitter tastes. Other household products, such as detergent, floor wax and window cleaner, include flavors such as lemon which flavor chemists create.
Certification as a flavorist requires seven years of training after college graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, flavorists work five years as trainees in a laboratory after receiving a bachelors' degree. The flavorist candidate then takes an oral exam which is given by scientists from the Society of Flavor Chemists. The flavorist then receives the title of junior flavorist and may take a second oral exam after two years. Once the flavorist passes the second exam, the flavorist is eligible to become a certified flavorist.
Flavor houses employ flavorists. Since an individual flavorist receives wages similar to the wages of a professional chemistry researcher, a flavorist is too expensive for smaller food manufacturers to hire. A flavor house often sells finished extracts which a company can purchase, and can also provide consulting services to a company to help it produce specific flavors for its products. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most flavor houses are located on the East Coast.
A flavorist career is closely related to chemistry and many flavorists have chemistry degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean wage of a chemist in 2008 was $66,230. Flavorists receive higher wages than chemists at the same degree level. According to Santa Ana College, food scientists earn between $65,000 and $90,000, and flavor chemists earn between $75,000 and $100,000. Flavorists include both flavor chemists and food scientists.
- Photo Credit food. image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com
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