Day 8, Food Taster

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Heads up! For the next 2 days I’ll also be researching food focused careers. Moving on…

 

Food. Food of any type… Some people out there make a living out of tasting it daily! I mean some people are even paid to taste chocolate (No seriously, check out this video on Chocolate Tasting as a career!).

Sound appetizing? Lets look into it.

I must say to me it sounded absurd that such a career as Food Tasting could exist. But apparently there is good reason for it. News24 went out to interview a chocolate tasting company and found out why taste testers are needed for the chocolate industry: “If a new factory opens, the brand has to make sure that the chocolate produced in the new factory tastes the same as that produced at other factories in that country.

Or if the factory changes its sugar supplier or gets in a new piece of equipment, the slabs produced thereafter need to be tested to see if their taste hasn’t changed.

 

Basically the reason food industries employ food tasters is to create a uniform (the taste doesn’t change over the years) and top quality food product for customers so that the product will sell.

 

Unlike freelance tasters, professional taste testers have many more tasks than just sitting around and eating food (the pay difference is there for a reason). These tasks are: conducting research on customer food trends (the tastes and textures that are “in”), coming up with ideas for new food products (Some take it a step further and actually develop new food products, often using science. These tasters are also food technologists.) and doing in-depth quality control checks on the food.

 

 

 

 

Personality and skills required for this position:

The very basic requirements are being over the age of 18 (although some companies want kids too), living near a testing center and having no food allergies. It is preferred that one is hard working, curious and passionate about food. You will also require a superior sense of taste (Palate training is one of the courses that can help one achieve this. Also, and this is a deal breaker to many, giving up on spicy, very salty or very sweet foods as well as cigarettes and alcohol is important for protecting your taste buds.) and be able to describe your taste well.

 

How to get into this career:

To be a professional taster you will need to have a degree in food science and sensory science.

Other high rank tasting positions (involving less of the “sciency” statistics) require a nutritional degree that involves food quality control or a degree in the culinary arts.

To make it as a taster it is suggested you find work in product development at a snack company. From here, with hard work, you can work your way up to being a high ranking taster. You will also have to undergo palate training

These careers are also occasionally advertised straight up on regular job websites, go check out your local ones.

If you feel passionate about this career but not passionate enough to study food and sensory science you can become a consumer taste tester without any degree. You will only have to research taste testing companies in your area and fill in their application form. However this means you will only earn a small sum.

 

The working hours:

The regular, 9 to 5 type of period. Working overtime is not unheard of though.

 

The pay:

Payscale, respected salary statistic site stated that this year the annual average in the USA is $51,684 or $16,43 per hour for freelancers. I couldn’t find any salary estimate for South Africa. Is this a sign I should move to the US?!

 

The pros:

-You’re getting paid to taste food, no one can argue this one.

-For a professional taster the salary is great.

-Traveling to different cities to test foods is often incorporated into this career if you are a high ranking taster.

 

The cons:

-The pay is low for many of the tasters, especially consumer taste testers.

-There is a lot of studying involved before obtaining this career.

-Some of the foods you taste could be, to put it bluntly, disgusting.

-If you are over indulging in unhealthy food outside of this job and avoiding exercise you are very susceptible to weight gain.

 

My conclusion and rating on this career:

I’m  sure that there are many out there who would jump at the opportunity at having this job. Personally I have a pretty hard time keeping in shape as is so I don’t think, at least right now that this is an ideal career for me. But to those keen on this career (and other than the potential weight gain I understand how one would be) I hope this post has provided insight on how to get into it! My overall rating on Food Tasting as a career is 7/10.

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