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Food Science

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Food science is the study of the physical, biological and chemical makeup of food. It looks at the concepts of food chemistry, analysis, microbiology, processing and engineering to assure food quality and safety.

San Luis Obispo, California

Principal areas of instruction are food engineering, food processing, food safety and sanitation, quality assurance, food microbiology, food chemistry and analysis, product development and sensory evaluation.

Food Science Curriculum

Chemistry Lab

Perform chemical analysis of food ingredients and products.

Culinary Science / Product Development Lab

With full kitchen capability, we have everything needed to make any culinary creation including baked products. Equipment includes pilot scale proofers, convection ovens, refrigeration units, batch mixers and more.

Foods Safety Lab

Test and monitoring bacterial and viral activity in food products/processes and analyze food products to determine potential food safety concerns.

Quality Control Lab

Determine water activity, moisture content, true color, viscosity, pH, percent soluble solids, as well as other quality related tests.

Sensory Evaluation Lab

Perform objective and subjective tests to evaluate flavor, texture and appearance of foods.

Advanced Food Science

The advanced food science concentration delves deeper into the principles of food science and is approved by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). You are strongly advised to follow this concentration if you plan on graduate study. Students enrolled in this concentration are eligible for IFT scholarships.

More about Advanced Food Science


The Culinology® concentration applies a strong science background to ingredient development, food product development or in entrepreneurial pursuits. Graduates are prepared to pursue advanced degrees in food science or attend a professional culinary program.

More about Culinology

Food science majors are able to participate in a blended program where you can earn your bachelor's and master's degrees at the same time.

The program is open to food science undergraduate students pursuing the BS degree in food science with a concentration in advanced food science. You must have a minimum CPSLO GPA of 3.0 at the time of application to the blended program.

Applications must be approved before you have completed 170 units toward your undergraduate curriculum requirement and you must have taken FSN 330 and FSN 364 prior to the quarter you apply to the blended program.

About the Program

A degree in food science teaches you to integrate and apply principles of food chemistry, analysis, microbiology, processing and engineering to assure food quality and safety.

The department’s on-campus food plant and laboratories provide real-world learning opportunities and promote safe, sustainable and nutritious foods through partnerships with the food industry in California and around the world. The program is designed to prepare you for employment in the food industry, government departments or for graduate study. You will choose between an advanced food science or Culinology® concentration and opportunities are available for advanced work in both areas through projects, internships and employment. Both concentrations culminate in a senior project that act as a final demonstration of your critical thinking and food and nutrition knowledge.

California Impact

The Food Science Department is equipped with a food processing pilot plant, as well as laboratories for food safety, food chemistry, nutritional science, metabolism and culinary science. You will learn how to test and monitor bacterial and viral activity in food products, perform tests to evaluate flavor of food and more. As part of the program, you will also receive training with pilot scale commercial processing equipment and participate in projects designed to simulate industry and business practices.

Food Science student in class


Professor Wins Grant to Study Safe Storage

Cal Poly Food Science Associate Professor Amanda Lathrop has been awarded a $360,000 grant by the Center for Produce Safety to study the effects of storage conditions on fresh-cut salad ingredients.

How Do You Know if Your Salad’s Been Contaminated?
A smiling person in a red car grabs an ice cream in a waffle cup off of a blue tray.


The Dairy Best

On this summer day at the Cal Poly Creamery, students are making a batch of their best-selling Mud Pie flavor — a chocolate ice cream with hints of coffee and swirls of crushed Oreo cookies — and training a new crop of students.

Students Make — And Scoop — Sweet Summertime Treats
A field of lettuce in the sun with hills in the background


Faculty Aim to Reduce Foodborne Illness

Each year an estimated 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Innovating Food Safety Programs for Leafy Greens

Our Graduates

Food science graduates enjoy rewarding careers in food processing and product development, sales, research, quality assurance and government regulation.

Many of our alumni have gone on to established careers with employers including Odwalla, Inc., Sunset Magazine, Naturebox, Oracle, Foster Farms, Frito-Lay and McKee Foods Corporation.