The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is jointly administered by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the College of Natural Science and offers majors in the following areas:
Food Science (B.S., M.S., Ph.D.), a multi-disciplinary science which applies chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, physics, engineering, nutrition, toxicology, and other basic and applied sciences to problems related to the production, preservation, processing, distribution, evaluation, and the safety and utilization of food. The bachelor’s degree is nationally recognized by the Institute of Food Technologists and includes concentrations in Basic Food Science, Food Business and Industry, Food Packaging, or Food Technology. The department also offers a Minor in Food Processing and Technology, for those interested in the food industry outside the realm of traditional food science, and a Minor in Beverage Science and Technology, designed to provide students with fundamental knowledge of the production of fermented beverages. Graduate students in food science carry out research in food safety and toxicology or food processing and quality enhancement.
The Nutritional Sciences program (B.S., M.S., Ph.D.) focuses on the science of nutrition and its relationships to human health. Core areas of undergraduate study include sustainable agriculture and food systems, food science, human nutrition, cellular and molecular biology, and chemistry, with concentrations in Biomedical and Molecular Nutrition, Global Nutrition and Health, and Public Health Nutrition. Graduate programs emphasize either biochemical or community-based research, with a special focus on preventative approaches and an understanding of how food impacts health. For those interested in toxicology and the harmful health effects of environmental and or other chemicals, the jointly offered dual-degree program in Environmental and Integrative Toxicological Sciences is administered through MSU’s Center for Integrative Toxicology.
The dietetics program (B.S., M.S.) is one of the largest, oldest, and most highly ranked programs in the country. It is a people-oriented, science-focused, and evidence-based field focused on the study of food and nutrition in relation to preventing and treating disease and maintaining and promoting good health. Core areas of study include nutrition and foods, chemistry and biochemistry, physiology and psychology, management skills and processes, and medical nutrition therapy. The Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics is a professional degree which requires acceptance into a competitive post-bachelor’s dietetic internship in order to complete the requirements for eligibility to take the registered dietitian examination. The Dietetic Internship is an applied practice program that is coordinated with an online Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. The internship is currently granted full accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The department’s Institute for Food Laws and Regulations offers two entirely online, graduate-level certificate programs: a Certificate in International Food Law and a Certificate in United States Food Law. Other noteworthy programs include the Graduate Specialization in Food and Agricultural Standards, administered by the Colleges of Social Science and Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the online Professional Master of Science in Food Safety, administered by the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Current faculty research emphases include food safety and toxicology (with a focus on agents affecting human and animal health, including mycotoxins and other natural products; foodborne disease agents and their toxins; and a variety of nutritional factors), food processing and quality enhancement (particularly with regard to meat, fruit, vegetable, dairy and cereal products), biochemical and molecular nutrition (including nutrient bioavailability, vitamin and mineral functions, phytochemicals and cancer prevention, and neuroendocrine regulation of energy metabolism), and human nutrition (with a long range goal of improving knowledge and behaviors to prevent lifestyle-related diseases and chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease).
Outreach efforts with MSU Extension include community nutrition, fruit and vegetable processing, food safety, and meat processing. Current activities offer information to industry and consumers to assure a safe and healthy food supply and to apply principles of health and wellness to families and communities. Faculty in Food Science and Human Nutrition also provide outreach efforts through the MSU Product Center for Agricultural and Natural Resources.
A brief account of the study of human nutrition and foods may be found in Home Economics to Human Ecology: 100 Years at Michigan State University (Margaret Bubolz, 1996). The program has a long and distinguished history and MSU has been a leader in the field since its inception. When the women's course was established in 1896, the study of foods was an integral component and included nutrition values, preparation, and food for the sick, children, and adults. As early as 1918, Hilda Faust in the Division of Home Economics was conducting food/nutrition research via her investigations into food chemistry and other problems. In 1922 Assistant Professor Dr. Marie Dye organized Research and Graduate Study in Nutrition. By the time the Home Economics (Human Ecology) Building opened in 1924, there were already three food laboratories and three nutrition laboratories. In that same year, an innovative collaboration with Lansing's Sparrow Hospital led to the offering of a bachelor's degree in home economics with a major in foods and nutrition and a diploma in nursing. The first master’s degrees in Nutrition were granted in 1927. By the time MSU reached its centennial year in 1955, the Foods and Nutrition Research undergraduate curriculum was well established.
The Department of Food Science was founded in 1959. Comprised of faculty from the departments of Agricultural Engineering, Horticulture, Dairy Science, Animal Husbandry and Poultry Science, the Department was administered by the College of Agriculture. In 1970 the Department of Food Science merged with the College of Human Ecology's Department of Human Nutrition and Foods (formerly, the Department of Foods and Nutrition, College of Home Economics) to form what is known today as the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Shortly thereafter, the nutrition laboratories were moved to the Food Science Building (now called G. Malcolm Trout Food Science and Human Nutrition Building). For many years the Department was jointly administered by the College of Human Ecology and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; it is now officially part of the latter college, and the Nutritional Science faculty and Human Nutrition graduate program are affiliated with the College of Natural Science.
The collection has grown over the years to keep pace with the university’s growth from an agricultural college to a major research institution, the phenomenal change in food processing and packaging technologies, the shifting trends in eating patterns and food practices, and the heightened interest in food safety and food/health linkages. The collection supports the emphasis on teaching, research, and outreach in food production, food quality and safety, nutrient function, and health and chronic disease prevention. Collection strengths include food safety and security, food microbiology, food processing, food laws and regulations, physiology and biochemistry of nutrition, and nutrition/health linkages.