For the Love of Food

by Rebecca Cazanave

 

The Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science is passionate about food, its effects on the body, and its processing and storage. The department houses three different majors, three corresponding M.S. programs, and a nutritional science minor. With four different labs, the department is full of hands-on opportunities for students who are passionate about food and nutrition, enabling them to learn practical experience within their chosen fields.

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Nutritional Science

Nutritional science majors are primarily interested in the chemical composition of food and how the body processes it. They work to understand the scientific foundation behind nutrition as they learn about digestion, absorption, and other metabolic processes. Additionally, they study the negative effects of nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. The program seeks to ensure that students understand the relationship dietary choices have with health and disease and that students are able to perform nutritional assessments as well as evaluate and conduct research within the field. The major emphasizes student laboratory research and community volunteer work, which makes graduates more competitive for employment and higher education.

Students within the major have access to the Nutrition Assessment Lab as well as the Chromatography Facility which provides unique opportunities for undergraduate research. Students in the nutritional science major have a wide range of career options. Some go on to work for food security or health advocacy groups while others decide to pursue graduate degrees in fields such as medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacology, and physical therapy.

Dietetics

The didactic program in dietetics is a limited enrollment program that admits eighty students per year. The goal of the program is to learn the foundational skills and knowledge established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Once students complete the program, they qualify for a verification statement which enables them to progress to a dietetic internship. Although the national internship placement rate usually hovers around 50%, BYU’s overall dietetic internship placement rate from 2010 to 2017 was 74%. Once a dietetic internship is completed (usually a nine- to twelve-month commitment), graduates are eligible to take the exam required to become a registered dietitian.

Students in the program have the opportunity to work on campus in the Pendulum Court Café to gain unique work experience. Additionally, many students volunteer through Y-Serve for Anatomy Academy or Dietetics After School Program to help share their love of nutrition with the community. As registered dietitians, graduates of the program have many career options. Some may choose the clinical route where they plan meals for residents of hospitals or nursing care facilities. Others opt to do private consulting or to work in their communities, advocating for improved health.

Food Science

Food science majors delve into a multifaceted study of food as they strive to improve food development, processes, storage, preservation, quality, and safety. The major offers two different tracks for their students: the food science technical track and the food industry management track. The first focuses on the chemical and mathematical components of food science while the second zeroes in on the business side of the industry, requiring a foundation of business courses and an academic internship. Students in both tracks are strongly encouraged to enhance their career preparation by working in an approved faculty-supervised internship, producing a senior thesis, or researching in a lab with a faculty mentor.

While on campus, food science majors have the opportunity to gain hands-on experiences in the Sensory Lab and Food Quality Assurance Lab. Graduates typically go on to work in the food industry which provides a variety of career options within the fields of research, management and sales, food production, and food quality and safety, among other areas. Graduates of the program are prepared for immediate employment.