Pet Food Tasters
You may think anyone who even considers taste-testing pet food is desperate, a bit wacky or both. But you'd be wrong. The job is actually typically a highly-skilled one, and more like a combination of researcher and taster. Generally someone with a doctoral degree, a pet food taster's main job is testing, not tasting -- evaluating a given pet food's nutritional value, writing reports and determining ways to enhance new pet foods currently being developed [source: Inside Jobs]. Still, at some point they have to get down to business: sampling it.
Before digging into a bowlful of pet food, the taster first critically appraises its smell. While many animals wolf down their food, appearing to pay no mind to smell or taste, its smell is actually one reason why they like it. Additionally, pet owners are picky about a given pet food's odor. Who wants their house to reek of fish or liver? After evaluating the smell, it's time for the pet food taster to nibble that kibble. As with all other food tasting, testers evaluate its flavor, texture and consistency, and then -- thankfully -- spit it out.
Is it really necessary to taste pet food? Yep. Pets can be just as selective about their food as we are. If a pet food taster thinks a particular food tastes awful, it's likely the pets would as well. The good news? A professional pet food tester-taster generally earns at least $34,000 per year, and can even rake in more than $100,000 annually. Makes the job a bit more, um, savory [source: Inside Jobs].
Author's Note: How Food Tasters Work
I'd love it if a food scientist peered into my husband's mouth. I have a feeling he just may be a 'super taster' -- someone with two or three times the normal number of taste buds. He can discern nuances like oak and vanilla when wine-tasting, and can pick out coconut and lemon in any food, even if it contains just a hint. I thought I had defective taste buds before working on this article. Now I know he likely just has loads more than I do.
- Allen, Peter. "Paranoid Putin has every meal tested for poison by qualified food tasters, claims former chef." The Daily Mail. July 24, 2012. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2178336/Vladimir-Putin-President-meal-tested-poison-qualified-food-tasters-claims-chef.html
- Amira, Dan. "Walter Scheib, Former White House Chef for Clinton and Bush, Defends Presidential Food Tasters." Daily Intelligencer. March 19, 2013. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/03/obama-food-taster-walter-scheib-president.html
- Ben & Jerry's. "Meet Our Flavor Gurus." (Nov. 25, 2014) http://www.benjerry.com/flavors/flavor-gurus
- Dang, Mike. "What It's Like to Work as a Professional Frozen Food Taster." The Billfold. March 25, 2014. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://thebillfold.com/2014/03/what-its-like-to-work-as-a-professional-frozen-food-taster/
- Donaldson-Evans, Catherine. "Professional Tasters Eat and Drink for a Living." Fox News. Jan. 13, 2004. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.foxnews.com/story/2004/01/13/professional-tasters-eat-and-drink-for-living/
- Howcast. "How to Be a Professional Food Taster." (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.howcast.com/videos/432523-How-to-Be-a-Professional-Food-Taster
- Inside Jobs. "Pet Food Tester." (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.insidejobs.com/careers/pet-food-tester
- Inside Jobs. "Professional Taster." (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.insidejobs.com/careers/professional-taster
- Luthern, Ashley. "Testing for Poison Still a Profession for Some." Smithsonian. June 26, 2009. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/testing-for-poison-still-a-profession-for-some-61805292/?no-ist
- Maurer, Daniel. "So You Want to Be a Professional Food Taster." Grub Street. Jan. 6, 2011. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.grubstreet.com/2011/01/so_you_want_to_be_a_profession.html
- MMR Research. "Careers at MMR." (Nov. 25, 2014) http://www.mmr-research.com/careers
- My Majors. Food Taster Career. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.mymajors.com/career/food-taster/
- Nania, Rachel. "Role of a food taster outside the White House." WTOP. Sept. 22, 2014. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.wtop.com/41/3706519/Role-of-a-food-taster-outside-the-White-House-
- Saelinger, Tracy. "The truth about being a taste tester: It's not always tasty." Today. Feb.19, 2013. (Nov. 23, 2014) http://www.today.com/food/truth-about-being-taste-tester-its-not-always-tasty-1C8427211
- The Schwan Food Company. "Become a Taste Tester." (Nov. 24, 2014) http://www.schwanstastetesting.com/learnmore.htm
- United States Department of Labor. "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: 19-1012 Food Scientists and Technologists." (Nov. 24, 2014) http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191012.htm