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What Is Food Management?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Food management is a broad process that involves the proper oversight of food selection, preparation, presentation, and preservation. The food service industry relies heavily on a number of different managers to supervise each aspect of the process to ensure the quality, taste, and safety of any food served or sold to the general public is healthy and in compliance with local standards. Because of the broad range of tasks involved with food management, there are many different career options for anyone who is interested in working with food of any type.

When many people think of food management, their minds immediately turn to the food service industry. Essentially, food service seeks to make sure that any food sold to businesses or individual consumers meet strict quality regulations. Within this capacity, food inspectors may be responsible for making sure preparation facilities are clean and free of contamination, as well as make sure that both raw and packaged foods are stored in an area that is safe and at the proper temperature as they await shipment to customers.

Food service inspectors labor in food processing plants to ensure all packaged foods are prepared according to standards and are readied for shipment in a manner that will keep the food fresh all the way to its destination. Upon delivery, other inspectors will go through the delivered foods and make sure there was no damage during transport that could impact the quality and freshness of the food.

The process of food management continues with the preparation of meals that are served to the general public. An expert food manager will know how to organize a commercial kitchen to best advantage, how to store foods properly, and how to determine if food is not fresh enough to use in the preparation of any recipe. A manager in this capacity may be a chef at a local restaurant, or be a member of the hospitality management team at a hotel. To a degree all members of the kitchen staff are also considered part of the food management team, as they work closely with the food and the preparation of menu items.

In the contemporary hospitality field, food management has to factor in customers’ dietary needs and requests. For instance, as the keto diet has gained popularity, food managers must ensure that they have ingredients and menu items that fit the diet’s requirements. Some individuals even use a keto app or other dietary planner, so a talented food manager will also need to be flexible and adept at working with unexpected food requests or menu item modifications.

Along with hotel and restaurant jobs, food management also involves making sure that food past its prime is not sold in supermarkets. Many packaged foods today are stamped with a date that indicates when the product should be used by. It is not unusual for manufacturers of items such as packaged cereals to routinely send quality inspectors around to make sure their items do not remain on supermarket shelves past those dates. Doing so helps to ensure that consumers have access to packaged food that is at its best in terms of freshness and taste.

Anyone who works with food can be said to engage in the task of food management. Even in the home, people who are tasked with preparing meals will evaluate the quality of food on hand, discard items that are no longer fresh, and seek to prepare meals that are tasty as well as visually appealing. In addition to minimizing the risks associated with consuming foods that are past their prime, the attention to the actual preparation and presentation also help to make consumption a more pleasant experience.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including Practical Adult Insights, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Babalaas — On Jul 06, 2010

@ Georgesplane- There are many government agencies that regulate and influence the food-service industry, probably more so than most industries. The USDA and FDA regulate food safety. The department of Labor and the INS influence and regulate hiring practices and work conditions. OSHA also plays a role in occupational safety and work conditions.

The SEC and IRS influence tax and financial decisions by food managers. Even the EPA and NOAA have a say over ocean farming practices, and environmental pollution associated with the food industry.

Food managers have an influence over the well-being of their customers. For this reason, the government is going to have a heavy influence over what the industry makes for personal consumption.

By Fiorite — On Jul 06, 2010

@ Georgesplane- The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) is an organization that caters to the restaurant side of the food service industry, which accounts for about half of the industry. The NRAEF offers a certificate for food managers called the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certificate.

The FMP credential certifies that an individual is experienced in foodservice management and is knowledgeable in the business aspect of the industry. The NRAEF awards the certificate based on experience and an exam. Food managers with this credential are well respected within the industry, and usually earn more throughout their career.

Besides the NRAEF, there are other food industry organizations and associations. The Society for Foodservice Management (SFM) is an association designed to serve the needs of executives in the corporate sector of the food service industry. Their membership includes food purveyors, food manufacturers, restaurant chains, companies that support the foodservice industry, and many others.

By Georgesplane — On Jul 06, 2010

It seems that food management is a term used to cover a broad spectrum of roles within the food service industry. When I first read the title of the article, I thought food management would refer to executive chefs or kitchen managers, but now I see it can include personnel from many different areas like commercial food manufacturing, event and hospitality managers, and caterers.

I wonder if there is an association or organization that sets standards for food managers, and what exactly the\ organization’s role is. Every other large group has some organization that creates standardized practices and ethics, so I assume that food management must have the same. Would a food management organization be a private entity, or is there a government organization that sets these standards?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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