If you're in high school, college, or otherwise looking for a career path to follow, have you considered becoming a pet food taster? It pays pretty well, and you'll be doing a great service for pets....
Since the days of the Roman emporers, history records that important persons hired food tasters, just in case someone thought they were 'too important.' The Roman Emperor Claudius was killed by poison in AD 54, even though he hired a food taster named Halotus who unfortunately, it is believed, is the person who poisoned the Emperor. (via) Throughout history food tasters have been employed for royalty, heads of state, politicians, and many others who may fear being poisoned, hire food tasters. Risky business.
Professional chefs also act as food tasters. They have to make sure that the dishes they create taste good... in fact, delicous. Chefs tend to have practiced and even innate taste buds that help them create their appetizing food. It is not, of course, just a refined sense of taste that makes a good chef though; chefs research the ingredients that go into making their dishes, how they blend together, and how much of each is needed to create a dish. They taste and taste and taste and other tasters test their creations as well, before it is served to the customer.
Simon Allison is a senior food technologist for Marks & Spencer (UK) and is responsible for pet produce. (via)
Companies that create commercially prepared food that you purchase in a supermarket, for example, hire food tasters. These tasters are often nutrition experts who not only taste the foods before packaging, but create recipes for them. AweSci states that these persons are "employed by labs and food testing companies to evaluate and improve certain food products for their taste, nutrition etc. Most such jobs require you to have a distinctly evolved sense of taste, a previous professional experience or a degree in something like food science."
So, what does a pet food taster do?
Smell and taste pet food, make sure the ingredients provide good nutition, make suggestions for different ingredients.... Just like tasters for human food. They need to know what dogs, cats, and other animals tend to like and what they don't like, especially if there are nutritional additives in the foods. What if those healthy ingredients have flavors that need to be suppressed? And it better smell good to our pets, or they won't go near it again!
via Career Match
Generally, to become a taste tester you will need an advanced degree as considerable research is required of a tester. You may need to prepare analyses and reports on the nutrition content. Though the average starting salary is between $30,000 and $60,000, if you stick with it and you are good, you can earn a lot more, according to AweSci.
Lucy Postins, founder of The Honest Kitchen pet food company, was trained as a pet nutritionist and food taster. Perhaps that's why all of The Honest Kitchen pet foods are made from human grade ingredients. Ms. Postins and her pets taste every ingredient and every dish before it gets to your dog's and cat's bowls. And if I can speak for my dog and cat, I think she does a pretty good job, because they love Honest Kitchen foods. I've never tasted it myself, as I trust their judgment, but I'm glad Ms. Postins did that for us.
You may get hired by a company that doesn't use human grade ingredients or taste as good as The Honest Kitchen foods, but don't worry, you don't have to swallow the food unless you want to. Most tasters of human and pet food spit out the food in a bucket before they swish their mouths and take the next spoonful.