Food Scientists and Technologists Career Opportunities and Demand

Jan 15, 2024

21 Min Read

1. What industries can food scientists and technologists work in?


Food scientists and technologists can work in a wide range of industries, including:

1. Food and beverage manufacturing: This is the most common industry for food scientists and technologists. They may work in product development, quality assurance, or research and development for companies that produce various food and beverage products.

2. Food service: Many food scientists and technologists work in the food service industry, where they develop new menu items, create recipes, and ensure food safety and quality in restaurants, cafeterias, catering companies, and other dining establishments.

3. Agriculture: Food scientists and technologists can also work in the agriculture industry, developing new farming methods, improving crop yields, and researching ways to make crops more sustainable.

4. Nutrition: Some food scientists and technologists specialize in nutrition science, working for government agencies or private companies to research and develop new nutritional products or improve existing ones.

5. Pharmaceuticals: Food scientists with a background in biochemistry or microbiology may find opportunities in pharmaceutical companies that manufacture medications derived from natural sources such as plants or bacteria.

6. Research institutions: Many food scientists work at universities or other research institutions where they conduct studies on different aspects of the food system, such as safety regulations, consumer behavior trends, and new technologies.

7. Government agencies: Government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) employ food scientists to regulate the safety of foods produced domestically or imported into the country.

8. Consumer goods: Food technologists may also work for consumer goods companies that produce packaged foods like breakfast cereals, snack bars, frozen dinners, etc.

9. Retail: Large retailers often have their own internal quality control departments staffed with food science professionals who ensure that their private label products meet specifications related to nutrition fact labels among other things.

10. Consulting firms: Some food scientists may also work for consulting firms that provide specialized services such as product formulation support or sensory testing to various food companies.

2. What are the job responsibilities of a food scientist and technologist?


The job responsibilities of a food scientist and technologist include:

1. Developing new food products: This involves researching and experimenting with different ingredients, processes, and techniques to create new food products that are safe, nutritious, and appealing to consumers.

2. Conducting quality control checks: Food scientists and technologists are responsible for ensuring that the safety, quality, and consistency of food products meet industry standards. This may involve conducting routine inspections, analyzing samples, or running tests on production processes.

3. Evaluating nutritional content: These professionals analyze the nutritional content of foods to ensure they meet dietary guidelines and regulations. They also work to enhance the nutritional value of foods through fortification or reformulation.

4. Monitoring and improving production processes: Food scientists and technologists review current production methods to identify ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance product quality. They may also develop new processing techniques or equipment.

5. Researching food safety: Food safety is a top priority in the food industry, so these professionals conduct research on potential hazards and develop strategies to prevent contamination during production and distribution.

6. Interpreting data: Food scientists use analytical skills to interpret data related to product development, quality control tests, and consumer feedback. They use this information to make data-driven decisions that lead to improvements in products or processes.

7. Collaborating with other teams: Food scientists work closely with other departments such as marketing, sales, packaging design, and operations to coordinate efforts towards developing successful food products.

8. Keeping up-to-date with industry trends: It’s essential for food scientists to stay informed about changes in the market as well as technological advancements in the food industry. This allows them to stay ahead of competitors by developing innovative products that meet consumer demands.

9. Ensuring regulatory compliance: Food scientists must comply with government regulations regarding food safety, labeling requirements, nutritional claims, etc., so their work must adhere to these guidelines.

10. Troubleshooting issues: In the event of a food safety or quality issue, food scientists are responsible for identifying the root cause and developing solutions to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

3. How is the demand for food scientists and technologists currently in the job market?


The demand for food scientists and technologists is currently high in the job market. With the global population growing, there is a need for more efficient and sustainable ways to produce, process, and distribute food. Additionally, consumer demands for healthier and more diverse food options also contribute to the increased demand for food scientists and technologists.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of agricultural and food scientists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by advancements in technology, as well as an increasing emphasis on research and development in the food industry.

Moreover, with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the importance of food safety and supply chain resilience, there has been a greater focus on hiring professionals with expertise in these areas. This has further increased job opportunities for food scientists and technologists.

Overall, the demand for food scientists and technologists is expected to remain strong in the coming years as they play a crucial role in addressing global food challenges and meeting consumer demands.

4. Are there opportunities for career advancement in the field of food science and technology?


Yes, there are many opportunities for career advancement in the field of food science and technology. Some possible career advancement options include:

1. Specializing in a particular area: Food science and technology covers a wide range of topics, such as food chemistry, food microbiology, product development, and quality assurance. By specializing in an area that interests you, you can become an expert in that field and potentially take on more advanced roles.

2. Pursuing higher education: Many employers value candidates with advanced degrees such as a master’s or Ph.D. in food science or related fields. These degrees can open up opportunities for more senior positions or research-focused roles.

3. Gaining experience and skills: As with any industry, gaining experience and developing new skills can lead to promotions and higher-level roles within a company or organization.

4. Management positions: With experience and leadership skills, you could move into management positions within the food industry, overseeing teams and departments.

5. Consulting: Food science consultants provide expert advice to companies on various aspects of their products and processes. With enough experience and expertise, you could become a consultant in this field.

6. Entrepreneurship: Starting your own business in the food industry is another option for career advancement in this field.

7. Teaching and research: If you enjoy teaching or conducting research, you can pursue opportunities in academia or with government research institutions.

Overall, there are numerous career paths available for individuals interested in advancing their careers in the dynamic field of food science and technology.

5. What skills are necessary for success in this career path?


Some skills that may contribute to success in this career path include:

1. Strong communication skills – being able to effectively communicate with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders is essential in order to collaborate and build relationships.

2. Time management and organization – the ability to manage multiple tasks, prioritize deadlines, and stay organized is important in order to meet project milestones and maintain efficiency.

3. Attention to detail – paying attention to the smallest details can be crucial in many industries within this career path, such as finance or healthcare, where accuracy is imperative.

4. Analytical thinking – having strong critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze data can help in problem-solving and decision-making processes.

5. Adaptability and flexibility – being able to adapt to changing situations and think creatively can be beneficial when encountering unexpected challenges or opportunities.

6. Technical proficiency – depending on the specific area within this career path, technical skills such as proficiency in software programs or understanding of industry-specific technology may be necessary.

7. Leadership abilities – having leadership qualities such as the ability to motivate others, delegate tasks, and make sound decisions can lead to success as a manager or leader within this field.

8. Professionalism – maintaining a high level of professionalism, ethics, and integrity is important in building a reputable career within any industry or company.

9. Continuous learning mindset – staying updated on industry trends, regulations, and innovations is important for career advancement and growth in this constantly evolving field.

10. Teamwork and collaboration – working well with others is key in most job roles within this career path as projects often require collaboration between different departments or teams.

6. Can someone with a non-science background become a food scientist or technologist?


Yes, it is possible for someone with a non-science background to become a food scientist or technologist. While a background in science can be helpful in understanding the concepts and principles of food science, it is not always necessary. Many food scientists and technologists have degrees in fields such as nutrition, microbiology, chemistry, engineering, or business.

Additionally, there are many training programs and courses available for those who want to enter the field of food science without a traditional science background. These programs often include basic science courses as well as hands-on training in various areas of food science.

Ultimately, a passion for food and a willingness to learn and adapt are key qualities for anyone hoping to become a successful food scientist or technologist.

7. How important is education in this field?


Education is extremely important in the field of sciences. It provides the necessary foundation and knowledge for individuals to understand complex scientific concepts, theories, and methods. In addition to basic fundamental courses, education also teaches critical thinking skills, problem-solving techniques, and laboratory practices that are essential for conducting research in different fields.

Furthermore, education also helps individuals develop a thorough understanding of the scientific method and how to design experiments, collect data, and analyze results accurately. This is crucial for developing new technologies, medicines or diagnostic tools that can contribute to advancements in various fields such as medicine, agriculture or environmental sustainability.

Education also plays a vital role in shaping individuals’ critical thinking abilities and inquiry skills which are important for generating new ideas, theories or hypotheses. It also fosters strong communication skills which are essential for presenting research findings effectively through written reports or oral presentations.

In addition to acquiring specific content knowledge related to one’s area of study, an education in sciences also helps develop transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical reasoning and teamwork which are highly valued by employers in various industries.

Moreover, scientists must continuously educate themselves on the latest scientific discoveries and developments through attending conferences, workshops or completing specialist certifications and courses throughout their careers. This ongoing education ensures that scientists remain up-to-date with advancements in their respective field and continue contributing meaningfully to the scientific community.

8. Are there any specific certifications or licenses required for this career?


It depends on which specific aspect of business and management you are referring to. Below are some examples of common certifications and licenses that may be required for certain roles:

– Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license for accounting and financial management positions
– Project Management Professional (PMP) certification for project management roles
– Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) credentials for human resources management positions
– Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation for supply chain and operations management roles
– Real estate license for property and real estate management positions

9. Are there any challenges facing food scientists and technologists in their day-to-day work?


Yes, some of the challenges facing food scientists and technologists in their day-to-day work include:

1. Food safety concerns: With increasing consumer awareness about food safety, food scientists are under pressure to ensure that all food products meet strict safety regulations and standards. This requires constant monitoring and testing of ingredients and production processes.

2. Changes in consumer preferences: Consumer preferences and dietary trends change constantly, making it challenging for food scientists to develop new products that meet these evolving demands.

3. Cost pressure: Food manufacturers are always looking for ways to cut costs without compromising on product quality. This puts pressure on food scientists to find more cost-effective ingredients and production methods.

4. Regulatory compliance: There are many regulations and guidelines related to food products, such as labeling requirements, nutrient content claims, and additives usage restrictions. Food scientists must stay updated with these regulations and ensure their products comply with them.

5. Supply chain issues: Food scientists must work closely with suppliers to ensure the quality and safety of raw materials used in their products. Any disruptions in the supply chain can affect the overall quality of the final product.

6. Short shelf life: Many food products have a short shelf life which can make it challenging for manufacturers to maintain product quality over time.

7. Technological advancements: As technology advances, there is a continuous need for food scientists to learn new techniques and equipment in order to be able to create innovative and safe products.

8. Environmental sustainability: Consumers are increasingly demanding environmentally friendly practices from the food industry, which presents a challenge for food scientists in finding eco-friendly packaging materials, improving energy efficiency during production, etc.

9. Balancing flavour with nutrition: As consumers become more health-conscious, there is a growing demand for healthier foods that also taste good. This requires food scientists to find ways to create nutritious foods while maintaining their taste appeal.

10. Meeting global demands: With globalization leading to an increase in international trade, food scientists must navigate different regulations and cultural preferences in the global market. This adds complexity to their work as they must adapt products to suit different markets while maintaining consistency in quality and safety.

10. Is there a growing need for sustainable and ethical practices in the food industry, and how does that affect job opportunities for these professionals?


Yes, there is a growing need for sustainable and ethical practices in the food industry. Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environmental and social impact of their food choices, and are demanding transparency and responsibility from companies. This has led to an increase in demand for professionals who can implement sustainable and ethical practices in all aspects of the food industry, including production, distribution, and marketing.

In terms of job opportunities, this shift towards sustainability and ethics has created a new demand for roles such as sustainability managers, eco-labelling specialists, sustainable sourcing experts, and ethical trading coordinators. There is also an increasing need for professionals with skills in areas such as organic farming, urban agriculture, food waste reduction, and regenerative agriculture.

Furthermore, many food companies are implementing corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs to meet consumer expectations for ethical business practices. This has created opportunities for professionals with expertise in CSR strategy development, implementation, and reporting.

Overall, the growth of sustainable and ethical practices in the food industry has created new job opportunities across various sectors including food production, marketing and advertising agencies, consulting firms specializing in sustainability initiatives, NGOs working on food issues, government agencies promoting sustainable agriculture policies among others. This trend is expected to continue as consumers continue to demand more accountability from the food industry.

11. In which countries or regions is the demand for food scientists and technologists highest?


There are many countries and regions where the demand for food scientists and technologists is high. Some of the key ones include:

1. United States: With a thriving food industry, the U.S. has a high demand for food scientists and technologists to develop new products, improve existing ones, and ensure product safety and quality.

2. European Union: The EU has a large agricultural sector and a strong focus on food safety and quality, which drives demand for food scientists and technologists.

3. China: As the world’s largest producer and consumer of food, China’s growing economy is driving the demand for qualified food professionals in areas such as food processing, packaging, and preservation.

4. Japan: Japan has a strong demand for food scientists to develop innovative technologies to improve its domestic food production and reduce its reliance on imports.

5. Brazil: With a booming agriculture industry that produces crops such as soybeans, coffee, citrus fruits, and sugarcane, Brazil has a high demand for skilled food scientists to improve production efficiency and ensure product safety.

6. Australia: Australia has a well-developed agricultural sector with a focus on exporting high-quality products globally. This requires skilled food scientists to ensure compliance with international standards.

7. India: India’s growing population is driving demand for more efficient and sustainable methods of producing safe and nutritious food, leading to an increased need for trained food professionals.

8. Southeast Asia: Many countries in Southeast Asia have rapidly growing economies and a large agriculture sector, which creates opportunities for skilled food scientists to contribute towards innovation in the industry.

9. Middle East: Countries in the Middle East have been investing in their agriculture industries in recent years to reduce their reliance on imports, creating opportunities for skilled professionals in this field.

10. Africa: The African continent has vast potential for growth in the agri-food industry due to its abundant natural resources. As investment in this sector increases, so does the demand for qualified food scientists and technologists.

12. How does technology play a role in the work of food scientists and technologists?

Technology plays a crucial role in the work of food scientists and technologists. They use a variety of technologies in their research, product development, and quality control processes to improve food production and ensure food safety.

1. Research and Development: Food scientists and technologists use various technologies to conduct research on new ingredients, processing methods, and packaging solutions. This can include microscopy, chromatography, spectrophotometry, and DNA sequencing techniques.

2. Product Development: Technology also plays a significant role in the development of new food products. Food scientists use computer-aided design (CAD) software to design packaging and equipment used in manufacturing processes. Additionally, they use sensory evaluation software to test the taste, smell, texture, and appearance of new products.

3. Quality Control: Advancements in technology have made it possible for food scientists to develop rapid testing methods for detecting contaminants such as bacteria, allergens, or additives. This helps ensure the safety and quality of food products before they reach consumers.

4. Preservation Technologies: Food scientists also utilize various preservation technologies to extend the shelf life of foods including freeze drying, vacuum packing, pasteurization, irradiation, and high-pressure processing.

5. Automation: With the increase in demand for processed foods, automation has become an essential aspect of food production. Food technologists use automation systems to streamline manufacturing processes while maintaining quality control standards.

6. Traceability: In recent years there has been a growing concern about transparency and traceability in our food supply chain. Food technologists use barcode scanning systems to track raw materials used in production as well as monitor storage temperatures during transportation.

In summary ,

technology has greatly enhanced the work of food scientists and technologists by providing powerful tools for research, product development,and quality control processes leading to safer and higher-quality food products for consumers.

13. Is there international demand for these professionals, and what kinds of job opportunities are available globally?

Yes, there is international demand for these professionals as organizations worldwide are increasingly recognizing the importance of data and analytics in decision-making.

Job opportunities globally for data analysts and data scientists can vary depending on the region, industry, and specific skills required. Some common job opportunities include data analyst, business analyst, data scientist, machine learning engineer, and data engineer. Other potential roles may include marketing analysts, financial analysts, or healthcare analysts.

In addition to traditional employment opportunities, many organizations also hire freelance or contract data professionals to work on specific projects. This allows for more flexibility and the ability to work with a variety of clients from around the world.

14. How do changes in consumer trends and preferences impact the work of food scientists and technologists?


Consumer trends and preferences play a crucial role in driving the work of food scientists and technologists. As consumer demands shift towards healthier, more convenient, and sustainable food options, food scientists and technologists must adapt their practices to meet these evolving needs.

Some ways in which changes in consumer trends and preferences impact the work of food scientists and technologists include:

1. Creation of new products: Food scientists and technologists monitor consumer trends closely to identify potential gaps or opportunities in the market. By understanding changing preferences such as increased demand for plant-based or gluten-free options, they can develop new products that cater to these needs.

2. Reformulation of existing products: In response to consumer demand for healthier options, food scientists and technologists may also work on reformulating existing products by reducing sugar, sodium, or fat content while maintaining taste and quality.

3. Use of innovative techniques: With consumers becoming more health-conscious, there is a growing interest in alternative cooking methods like sous-vide or air frying. As a result, food scientists and technologists may explore new technologies to improve food safety, texture, flavor, and overall product quality.

4. Emphasis on sustainability: Sustainability has become a significant factor for many consumers when choosing their food products. Food scientists and technologists are now working to reduce packaging waste through innovations such as biodegradable materials or reusable packaging options.

5. Need for transparency: Consumers are increasingly interested in knowing the origin of their food, its ingredients, production processes, and any potential health hazards associated with it. To address this demand for transparency, professionals in this field must ensure accurate labeling of ingredients with comprehensive nutritional information.

6. Exploring new ingredients: With changing consumer preferences towards whole foods, ancient grains or superfoods have gained popularity over processed foods. Food scientists may conduct research on these ingredients to understand their potential benefits and how they can be used effectively in product development.

Overall, changes in consumer trends and preferences require food scientists and technologists to constantly innovate and adapt to meet evolving demands. This process not only improves products but also contributes to the overall growth of the food industry.

15. Are there any specific areas within food science and technology that are seeing significant growth or innovation currently?


Yes, there are several areas within food science and technology that are experiencing significant growth and innovation:

1. Plant-based foods: With the rise in demand for alternative protein sources, plant-based foods have seen a surge in popularity. Companies are developing new plant-based products that mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of animal-based foods.

2. Functional and Nutraceutical Foods: These types of foods are designed to provide specific health benefits beyond basic nutrition. The market for functional and nutraceutical foods is growing as consumers become more health-conscious.

3. Clean label and natural ingredients: Consumers are increasingly looking for products made with natural and clean label ingredients. This has led to the development of new processing techniques and ingredient sourcing methods to create more natural food products.

4. Food safety and traceability: There is a growing emphasis on ensuring food safety throughout the supply chain, from farm to fork. This has led to the development of new technologies for tracking and tracing food products, such as blockchain.

5. Food waste reduction: As sustainability becomes a key concern for consumers, there is a focus on reducing food waste throughout the entire food system. This has resulted in innovations in packaging, preservation techniques and processing methods to extend shelf life.

6. Personalized nutrition: Advancements in technology have allowed for personalized nutrition recommendations based on an individual’s unique genetic makeup or personal health goals.

7. Smart packaging: With the rise of e-commerce and home delivery services, there has been an increase in demand for innovative packaging solutions that can maintain food quality during transportation and storage.

8. Alternative sweeteners: As consumers seek healthier alternatives to traditional sugar, there is an increased focus on developing alternative sweeteners that offer similar taste profiles with fewer calories or negative health effects.

9. Novel cooking techniques: The advent of sous-vide cooking, microwave heating, high pressure processing (HPP), etc., has opened up possibilities for creating new textures and flavors in food products.

10. Artificial intelligence and data analysis: The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, combined with the analysis of big data, has opened up opportunities for optimizing food production processes and creating personalized solutions for consumers.

16. Can someone with a degree in chemistry or biology pursue a career as a food scientist or technologist without additional training or education?


It is possible for someone with a degree in chemistry or biology to pursue a career as a food scientist or technologist without additional training or education, although it may be more challenging. These fields do require specific knowledge and skills related to food science and technology, including food chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, and preservation techniques. Someone with a background in chemistry or biology may have some of the necessary foundational knowledge, but they will likely need to gain additional experience and education through internships, on-the-job training, or coursework.

In some cases, individuals with a degree in chemistry or biology may also choose to pursue a graduate degree in food science or a related field to further develop their knowledge and skills in this area. Ultimately, the career opportunities available will depend on each individual’s specific background, experience, and qualifications. It may be helpful for someone with a degree in chemistry or biology to seek out informational interviews or network with professionals in the food science industry to learn more about potential career paths and what additional training or education may be beneficial.

17. Is there a demand for research roles within this field, and if so, what type of research is typically done by these professionals?

Yes, there is a demand for research roles within this field. Some of the common types of research conducted by professionals in this field include:

1. User Research: This involves studying the target audience and understanding their needs, behaviors, preferences and attitudes towards a product or service.

2. Market Research: This involves analyzing the market trends, competition and consumer insights to identify potential opportunities and challenges.

3. Product Research: This involves conducting experiments, surveys and interviews to gather data on the usability, effectiveness and satisfaction of a product or service.

4. Design Research: This involves using design thinking methodologies to identify user problems and develop solutions that meet their needs.

5. Data Analysis: This involves analyzing quantitative data collected from various sources to gain insights into market trends, user behavior and performance metrics.

6. Usability Testing: This involves testing products or services with real users to identify usability issues and make improvements.

7. Trend Analysis: This involves researching new technologies, industry developments and consumer trends to stay current and competitive in the market.

8. Competitive Analysis: This involves studying competitors’ products or services to identify their strengths, weaknesses and unique selling points.

9. Ethnographic Research: This involves immersing in the target audience’s environment to understand their behaviors, social norms and culture.

10. Qualitative Research: This includes methods like focus groups and interviews to gather subjective insights on user perceptions, opinions and attitudes towards a product or service.

18. How do advancements in technology impact the role of a food scientist or technologist?


Advancements in technology have a significant impact on the role of food scientists and technologists. These professionals use technology to develop, test, and improve food products through various stages of production, processing, preservation, packaging, and distribution.

Some specific ways that advancements in technology have impacted their roles are:

1. Innovation in Food Processing Techniques: Technology has enabled the development of advanced food processing techniques such as high-pressure processing (HPP), microwave heating, ohmic heating, and non-thermal pasteurization techniques. These methods help to preserve the nutritional value of food while ensuring its safety and shelf-life.

2. Automation: With the rise of automation in the food industry, food scientists and technologists can now use computer-controlled systems for tasks like ingredient measurement, mixing or blending, product testing and quality control. This reduces human error and ensures consistency in product quality.

3. Quality Control: Advancements in technology have made it easier to detect contaminants or other harmful substances in foods using tools such as infrared spectroscopy, DNA-based tests, or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). This helps ensure food safety and maintain high-quality standards.

4. Product Development: With sophisticated software programs and simulation tools at their disposal, food scientists can now create virtual prototypes of new products before they are even produced. This allows for faster prototyping and more efficient R&D processes.

5. Sustainable Packaging: The growing demand for eco-friendly packaging has led to advancements in sustainable packaging materials such as biodegradable film coatings or edible packaging made from plant-based materials. Food technologists play a crucial role in developing these new sustainable packaging solutions while considering both food safety and consumer preferences.

In conclusion, advancements in technology have significantly expanded the capabilities of food scientists and technologists by allowing them to develop safer, healthier, more innovative and environmentally friendly products for consumers.

19.Can one specialize within this field, such as focusing on organic or plant-based foods?


Yes, it is possible to specialize within the field of organic or plant-based foods. Many professionals and experts in the food industry have focused their careers on this specific area, whether as chefs, nutritionists, farmers, or researchers. This can involve studying the production methods and benefits of organic foods, creating menus and recipes using predominantly plant-based ingredients, or developing new products and innovations in this market. Specializing in organic or plant-based foods can also involve advocating for sustainable farming practices and promoting healthy eating habits.

20.Are internships or hands-on experience important for gaining entry into this field, and how does one go about finding those opportunities?


Yes, internships and hands-on experience are very important for gaining entry into this field. These opportunities allow you to apply the theoretical knowledge you learn in school and gain practical skills that are valuable to potential employers.

One way to find these opportunities is through your school or university’s career center or job board. Many companies and organizations offer internships specifically for students, so be sure to regularly check these resources for new postings.

Another way to find internships is through networking. Reach out to professionals or alumni in the field and inquire about any internship opportunities they may know of. Attend career fairs, industry events, and conferences where you can meet with potential employers and make connections.

Additionally, you can directly reach out to companies that interest you and inquire about internship opportunities. Don’t be afraid to send a personalized email or even call their HR department to express your interest and ask about available positions.

It’s also helpful to have a strong resume and portfolio when applying for internships. Make sure your resume highlights relevant skills and experiences, and that your portfolio showcases any relevant projects or coursework you have completed.

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