Food Science Presentation


Kourtney Allee

Students on Jan. 24 learn about the importance of taste by trying fruit snacks without the sense of smell.

Kourtney Allee, Reporter

On Jan. 24 the Members Mark Development Team gave a presentation to Fayetteville High School students about food chemistry, dairy science and the many fields associated with food science. A representative from the University of Arkansas attended and discussed the Food Science Degree Programs available. Jade Cameron an Agricultural teacher and FFA adviser helped host the program along with the Ag department. Cameron said she hoped that students would learn more about food science.
“I am hoping that students who attend the presentation will learn more about how science connects to their food and the opportunities in the food science career field,” said Cameron.
Cameron also wanted students to learn that food science crosses multiple disciplines such as microbiology, food safety, medicine, law and many more career paths that have backgrounds in food science. During the presentation, students were able to see what Cameron had hoped they would.

Kourtney Allee
Matt Chapanko explains how chewing is made possible.

Matt Chapanko, a marketing and food science director at Members Mark started off the presentation by explaining the basic five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Chapanko continued to talk about why taste is so important. He discussed three points: how taste prepares you for digestion, keeps you safe and is needed for survival. The students then were asked to put on nose clips and try a fruit snack to see how different senses affect taste.

Kourtney Allee
Students eat different foods and learn how some foods are made.

Chapanko proceeded to discuss how the trigeminal nerve is responsible for biting, chewing and other functions. He also talked about the job of a taste tester and how they are given descriptive references to rate food tastes on a scale from 1-15 or 0-100.
Brett Littlejohn, who worked for eight years in cheese manufacturing, discussed the dairy industry, debunked myths and explained how some dairy products were produced. Students learned that milk was separated from cream and was “churned” to create one of the most important dairy products, butter. Students then had the opportunity to taste butter made by Members Mark.

Kourtney Allee
Students learn how butter is made and taste butter made by Members Mark.
Kourtney Allee
Many students enjoy the bread and butter provided by Members Mark.

A student asked about why some cheese tastes rubbery or plasticky. Littlejohn explained that if the word “food” was put on the package then the company could add more ingredients to make it less expensive and less like cheese. Restaurants and chains such as Eureka Pizza buy this cheese to lower the manufacturing costs of pizza, which allows the price of a pizza to be more affordable for the consumer.


A few students wanted to know if the dairy industry was “green.” Littlejohn said that “the dairy industry was green before green was a thing.” Water taken out of milk when making cheese is filtered making it drinkable so no water is wasted. Others wondered how Kraft Mac and Cheese claims it uses real cheese but is powder. Littlejohn explained how taking moisture out of the cheese is essential. Mac and cheese companies make cheese sauce and take all the moisture out of it forming a powder.

Kourtney Allee
Brett Littlejohn discusses the way butter is manufactured, to the students on Jan. 24.

Lastly, a representative from the University of Arkansas spoke to the students about the opportunities in food science and the many ways it connects with the world. She also discussed the benefits of degrees in food science and how they can lead to different career paths. She explained how a UA cheerleader had a degree in food science and was able to move on to medical school. The Members Mark presentation was inspirational and students learned a lot of new information about the food science industry. The presentation helped students understand the importance of food science, and the ways it is interconnected with so many other fields.

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