Ask the Food Scientist

As a food scientist I get asked many questions, in this post I will begin to tackle just a few of them:

 What is something that as a food scientist you now won’t eat?


Honestly? Hotdogs. I went to a factory and saw the meat before it was pumped into the casing… and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. Imagine a giant pink soup that smells like raw meat. The visual alone could turn you off of sausages forever. Think about it, if this “all beef dog” was so good, how come they’re selling it for dirt cheap? Since hotdogs are created from finely ground up meat, the consumer (i.e you) can’t see what all of the meat originally looked like. What parts are they really putting into the hotdog, or any ground meat product (I’m talking about SPAM here people). Especially since all of the “good parts” are already being sold to high-end restaurants and grocery stores. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that there are plenty of good cuts of meat that the general public has never heard of (like a pork picnic). But most of a hotdog is left-over bits that they had to cut away from another pieces of meat for whatever reason. This means that these leftovers are what they are grinding up and putting into your beloved after-the-club street meat.

 Do you only eat healthy, organic or natural foods?

 No, well not purposefully anyway. Product development has taught me that marketing is out to scam lots of innocent consumers. It’s kind of terrible because I do think that there is a legitimate environmental reason for eating organic foods. In addition, young children would benefit a lot from reduced pesticide ingestion. I am trying to get better about buying organic fruits that I eat raw and have a soft skin. These types of produce, like berries, apples and pears, all have a higher amount of pesticides on them that can’t be washed away.

 So is it your job to make things healthier?

 Only if that’s what’s selling! The food industry will only make products that sell. If marketing shows that there is a need for a healthier option, then we will develop it. On the flip side, if their research shows that no one is going to buy it, then it’s not going to be made by me, the Product Developer. It’s all about branding and understanding how a product fits into a consumers’ mind. Is it a healthy snack loaded with whole grains, nuts and fruits? Or perhaps it’s their indulgent reward, where poor taste isn’t an option. There’s a method to every madness and a reason behind every item on a grocery store shelf.

 If you have any questions leave a comment & I’ll answer the best ones in another post!


About Adi

A baker, a food scientist and an overall lover of new food creations

8 responses to “Ask the Food Scientist

  1. Lorraine

    So true about wieners! I’ve seen enough wieners being made to last me a lifetime. But I think I just got desensitized to it. Sausages, not so bad. Many low-end wieners have organs such as heart and liver in them, which really gives you that nasty taste 😦

    Haha as for the organic/natural question – that was the debate topic my group used for food comm. You know, the assignment were the class average was 99% lol.

    • Didn’t think it was possible, but you managed to make hotdogs even LESS appealing. blech, organs, so gross!

      What was your groups take on the organic/natural thing?

      • Lorraine

        Ah I forgot to check off the ‘notify me of follow-up comments’ box!
        Sorry, just saw your reply.

        FYI, PC Wieners & sausages don’t have organ parts in them haha.

        Overall, my group seemed to come to the decision that there isn’t strong evidence suggesting that organic food is healthier, safer, tastier, more nutritious, etc. We didn’t decide on a conclusion beforehand, we just did our research and then did our ‘presentation’ so it was pretty interesting. I took the ‘Food, Nutrition and Toxicology’ class and we studied that topic in great detail. That’s where I learned about the potential pros and cons of consuming organic food from a toxicological perspective – very interesting! If you are interested I could tell you more about it, I loved learning about it!

      • Of course I’m more interested in learning about it! Tell me MORE!
        Toxicology-wise, should I be eating only organic food?
        Also- does PC promote that their product is organ free lol

  2. Lorraine

    Haha I don’t think they advertise as organ-free, the good thing about PC is that the standards are pretty high. For example, PC products containing meat typically don’t contain mechanically separated chicken, which is a much cheaper alternative.

    I started doing this from memory and then went back to my notes to make sure I’m not getting it wrong! So from a toxicological perspective, there really isn’t enough evidence supporting the ill effects of pesticides. Interestingly enough, when pesticides aren’t used, plants will produce higher levels of their own defense chemicals, called phytoallexins. These are chemical defense molecules vary in functionality, properties, how they are broken down, etc. But sometimes you don’t know what concoction of phytoallexins you will find in a plant. For potatoes, wild potatoes are more abundant in glycoalkaloids, which act as insecticides and fungicides. So depending on the plant, the type of phytoallexins present are different – there is no definite yes or no answer as to whether they are good or bad for you.

    Now this I pulled directly from my notes! From a cancer perspective, the National Cancer Institute of Canada has revisited this issue several times. They compiled a report in 1981 and 1997, and the panel concluded that there isn’t any definitive evidence suggesting that synthetic pesticides contributes significantly to increase risk of cancer.

    Obviously I gave you the short answer – I could go on and on but I don’t want to bore you!

  3. Jamie Moya


    I would like your expertise and have many questions about the science of food. I want to put my moms all purpose seasoning and blend of spices on the market. If you are able to please contact me. Thank you.

  4. I’ve long since given up on the return of Hot Warheads Candy. Growing up I was hooked on the spicy cherry candy. As a grown up, understanding more about how food is created, I realize I could probably gin up a suitable replacement.

    What would you recommend to give that peppery punch but would work well in a hard candy situation?

    • Adi

      Great question blainblaine,

      From what I can find on the internet it looks like warheads get their sour punch from all of the food grade acids in it. This includes, malic acid, citric acid and ascorbic acid. The first acid on the ingredient decleration is malic acid; therefore, it is in this product more than the rest. The typical example of where to find this is in green apples. However, the version you want is going to look like a dry white powder. So really, the question becomes, how do I get my hands on food grade malic acid that I can then put on top the less-hot Warheads that are being sold today. If this were me, I would just contact a food ingredient supplier but you don’t really have that option. But then as luck would have it, Amazon is selling it for just $10! *see link below
      Add a little bit of this stuff to the regular warheads and you’ll be in for that good ol’ fashion intence flavour you’ve been msising! Let me know how it goes!


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