Educating food scientists
Earlier this year, Angie Dueck, Keely Johnston, Victoria Gilbert and Florence Yip explored commercial cheese production at the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS).
Their undergraduate project, dubbed Utterly Brilliant Cheese, compared the making of Gouda to Brie.
They found that a luscious, creamy disk of Brie can take up to three weeks of daily turning and flipping plus three weeks or more of ripening. Gouda, however, “with less fussy curds” only needs a third of that daily handling. And as a hard cheese, Gouda has as a longer shelf life than Brie.
Under the watchful eye of Chris Scaman, their faculty advisor and associate professor of food science, the students worked through the entire process, from coagulation and fermentation to salting and ripening. They had to consider industry and food safety standards while also analyzing scalability for production, costs, suppliers, marketing and sales.
“Our results show that Gouda would be more feasible than Brie should anyone at UBC want to make and sell cheese,” says Yip, in her fourth year of food science. “Gouda is a lot easier to produce and could sell for about $2 to $3 per 100 grams in places like Sprouts in the SUB or Agora café at MacMillan Building.”
The Utterly Brilliant Cheese experience typifies the type of hands-on learning that the capstone course FNH 425 provides, says course instructor and Food Science Prof. Eunice Li-Chan.
“Students study the theory and principles behind environmental listeria swabbing or pH testing in other courses, but here they have to apply that knowledge in a real-life situation,” says Li-Chan.
FNH 425 students also conduct research on problems identified by industry sponsors in sectors as diverse as natural health products, chocolate, tofu and seafood.
That breadth of knowledge and skills helped Johnston land an internship at a Metro Vancouver dairy processing plant this spring.
“I loved it. I got to work all over the plant and do so many different things,” says Johnston, who’s graduating this December. “I was applying the direct knowledge from my degree, whether it’s pasteurization or analyzing the bacteria to ensure safe dairy products.”
The food science program at UBC is accredited by the Institute of Food Technologists, which represents food science professionals from more than 100 countries. Students acquire core competencies and skills in key areas that include quality assurance; regulatory and nutrition labeling considerations; analysis of chemical, physical, nutritional or sensory properties; and microbiological assessment.
For more information about food, nutrition and health studies at the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, visit: http://www.landfood.ubc.ca/undergraduate/programs/fnh