Food Science Friday: Scavenger Hunt

, Zak, Claire


This SET activity will expose participants to food science and scientific processes of food production while combining healthy living practices. Throughout the lesson, participants will develop food safety, research and development, and critical thinking skills.

Audience Age: 4th grade – 12th grade

Activity Time: Approximately 15-30 minutes


  • To engage students in the discovery of food processing additive
  • To explore how and why food processing additives are used
  • To explore careers in food science


Engage/Investigative Phenomena:

An additive is defined as a substance added to something in small quantities to improve or preserve it (make things last longer).

For centuries various ingredients have been used as functional additives in a variety of food. Historically and still today salt and sugar is used to preserve meats, fish, and fruit. Herbs and spices improve flavor and vinegar helps preserve in the form of pickling.

Find a list of commonly used food additives here.


  1. Using the provided table of commonly used food additives at the end of this document choose 10 additives with your preferred difficulty and list them in the “Food Additive to Find” column.
  2. Go “hunting” for the listed ingredients in your kitchen at home. As additives are found fill in the “Where was it Found” column.
  3. Once all 10 items are found, use hints from the packages where the additive was found, common knowledge, the “commonly used food additives” table or general research to discover what the additive is used for and possibly what it was derived from.


Today’s growing population needs food that is safe, nutritional, flavorful, convenient, and affordable. Food additives and advancements in food technology can help make the goal of feeding our world by 2050 possible.

Many consumers have concerns about additives because they are unfamiliar with their names and purposes. Whether we eat a fresh-picked Louisiana strawberry or a store-bought chocolate chip cookie, everything we consume is made up of chemical compounds that determine its flavor, color, texture and nutritional value.

All food additives are carefully regulated by governmental authorities and health organizations to ensure safety and accountability.

Associated Careers:

  • Flavor Technologist
  • Product Development Scientist
  • Packaging Engineer
  • Food and Meat Scientist
  • Nutritionist/Dietitian
  • Food Technologist
  • Food Safety/Quality Assurance Manager
  • Research and Development Technician
  • Produce Buyer
  • Food Biotechnology
  • Food Production Supervisor
  • Food Engineer

To see more on agricultural career opportunities go to:

5/5/2020 7:22:38 PM
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