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How Food Tasters Work

By: Melanie Radzicki McManus  | 

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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.

Related Articles

  • 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

Food taster FAQ

What is a professional taster?
There are two basic types of food tasters: The first group consists of professionally educated and trained men and women who are often employed as food technicians, food scientists or product developers. The second type comprises consumers who work part-time or on an as-needed basis to taste-test products for companies.
What does a food taster do?
Taste-testers take small bites of a particular food, which allows them to truly evaluate its various components. Then they spit it out and cleanse their palate in preparation for the next sample by sipping water or perhaps even gargling.
How do I become a food taster?
Professional food tasters say it helps to prepare your body as much as your mind for this job. Protect your 10,000 taste buds by passing on cigarettes, booze and super spicy or salty foods. Lay off the aftershave or cologne, as heavy scents can impair your sense of smell -- and 80 percent of taste is smell. Finally, eat your veggies.
What education do you need to be a food taster?
If you're interested in becoming a professional food taster, you'll most likely need a degree in food science or the culinary arts. A nutrition degree can also be helpful, as well as a post in product development at a food or beverage company.
How much do food tasters make?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a food taster is $54,294.