Food tasting has been a serious profession since the times of kings. Kings and other important people used to have their personal food tasters who were responsible to determine if the food was safe to eat. From ancient Rome to the present date – Romans used slaves as food tasters, Olympics chose mice for the job, Hitler had an army of 15 women who used to taste his food before him and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president has a food taster among the security staff. I’m sure the US president has one too, but the secret service refuses to confirm any details or even the existence of a person with such a job in his security staff.
Since ancient times the job of a human food taster has turned into a professional job which has a much widened application today. Professional food tasters can be a part of a sensory/consumer or expert panel, 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.
At first, getting paid to eat food sounds like a great idea. Well, it doesn’t even sound good if you are going to taste pet food. Anyway, even human food tasting can be hard. It can be a repetitive job. Food flavorists working to test the flavors of teas for instance might have to taste more than 500 cups of tea a day. Plus you might not even qualify for it because of lack of sensory sharpness which is usually a rare genetic trait, or is usually developed by years of training.
I recently heard about food tasters on the Stuff You Should Know podcast and got interested when Chuck and Josh talked about pet food tasting. I wanted to find out more about it. Here’s the link to this episode: Link.
Pet Food Testing
What is more interesting is that food tasters might also have to taste pet food to see if the taste and aroma would be good for the pets. I mean dogs would eat most things you give them. Do they really care about the taste or the smell or the nutritional value of a particular food? May be they do, but how would you ever know! Their owners however care. The owners of pets want the best tasting, nice smelling and nutritious food for their pets.
Pet food tasters (or testers) can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 for entry level positions. It gets better with experience. It is certainly one interesting direction for a person’s career and not many know about it. So here are some things that tell you a little more about it.
It is hard to be one
The very fact that animals can’t speak to the professional food taster makes their job even harder. A sense of what the animal might like needs to be developed without a clear feedback from the pet.
While even the thought of it might nauseate you, some people just love their pet-food tasting job, like Lucy Postins.
Not all animal food is safe for humans
Whiskers cat food is compatible with humans too. But it is not made with the nutritional needs of humans in mind. Especially when they use raw or freeze-dried-raw meat as ingredients. It is a bad idea to eat it unless you are in a serious food emergency.
Just spit it out
Pet food tasters can simply chew the pet food carefully, be mindful about it, give an honest feedback and simply spit it all out into a bucket. Or how would you like to swallow 100 bites of different samples in a day.