The Department of Food Science and Technology was established in 1986. Since then, the Department has gradually developed into its present status with laboratories and facilities of its own. The Department conducts teaching, and basic and applied research in different aspects of Food Science, Biotechnology, Human Nutrition and Food Technology. The Department plays an important role as the lead-department in offering the B.Sc. degree in Food Science & Technology (B.Sc. FST), in addition to its contribution to the B.Sc. degree in Agricultural Technology & Management (B.Sc. AgTech & Mgt).
The Department is engaged in teaching in all four years of the undergraduate degree programs. In the B.Sc. AgTech & Mgt degree program an opportunity for advanced studies is offered to a selected group of students during their third and final years of study. The students in the advanced program follow courses and undertake research in the areas of food microbiology, food processing, preservation and postharvest technology; food sanitation, analysis and quality control; product development and sensory evaluation; food constituents and nutritional studies.
The students following the B.Sc. FST degree program undergo a comprehensive training in the subject during the 4-year period including an industrial training. At present the Department has facilities to provide practical training in many subject areas in relation to food science & technology. The students carry out their final year research projects at public and private sector institutions.
The Department provides assistance to public and private sector organizations as well as to interested individuals in their professional development by offering short term training courses. It also assists those institutions requiring development of curricula and teaching materials. The staff members serve as consultants to the industry, and members of committees of several scientific organizations, visiting staff to the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA) and Postgraduate Institute of Science (PGIS) of this University, andother undergraduate and postgraduate programs of many Universities in Sri Lanka. In addition to the M.Phil and Ph.D. programs. the Board of Study in Food Science & Technology of the PGIA offers M.Sc. degree programs in Food Science & Technology and Food & Nutrition. The staff members also serve as external examiners to many other universities for undergraduate courses in Food Science. The Department achieved a very high rank for quality assurance in the recent subject review assessment conducted by the Quality Assurance & Accreditation Council of the UGC.
The Department is engaged in research on food analysis for quality and nutritional character-istics, assessment of food contaminants and adulterants, studies on food processing and preservation to improve food quality, development of new food processing technologies, stud-ies on aflatoxin detoxification in foods and feedstuffs, microbiological and toxicological studies of smoked coconuts and fish, modified atmospheric storage of local fruits, and glycemic index of food.