Sensory evaluation

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Sensory evaluation

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This section provides details on the different types of sensory tests that can be conducted, including how to organise the tests and interpret the results. A number of ICT templates are also provided.

 

Last reviewed: 05/08/2009

Next review date: 01/08/2012


Organising a Test

Why use sensory evaluation?

Sensory evaluation can be used to:

  • evaluate a range of existing food products;
  • analyse a test kitchen sample for improvements;
  • gauge consumer response to a product;
  • check that a final product meets its original specification.

How To Perform Sensory Evaluation

1. Decide on the type of test you want to perform.

  • Preference test - asks whether people like or dislike a product, e.g. hedonic scale
  • Discrimination test - asks people to describe a particular attribute of a product, e.g. paired comparison test.

2. Find a clear area to hold the sensory test.  Try to make sure that it is away from noise and cooking smells which may distract the people taking part in the test.

3. Place as many samples in serving containers as there are people taking part in the test. Code each sample with a random number, letter or symbol.

4. Check that you have enough glasses of water for the people taking part.

5. Make sure the people taking part know what is expected from them.

6. Ask each person to taste one sample at a time, and record their responses. Allow time between samples so that tasters can record their opinions.


Types of test

What tests are used?

There is a set of standard tests which can be used by industry.  These are laid down by British Standard (BS5929).

Preference Tests - these supply information about people's likes and dislikes of a product. They are not intended to evaluate specific characteristics, such as crunchiness or smoothness.  They are subjective tests and include pair comparison, hedonic and scoring.

Discrimination Tests - these aim to evaluate specific attributes, i.e. characteristics of products (crunchiness).  They are objective tests and include pair comparison, duo trio and triangle.


Hedonic Scale

1. Prepare the food samples.

2. Ask each person to taste each sample in turn and tick a box, from '1 Dislike Very Much' to '5. Like Very Much' to indicate their preference. Use the word file below to help.

3. The person may also wish to make remarks about the products appearance, taste, odour and texture.

4. Analyse the results. Which sample received the greatest/lowest scores?

ICT: 3 templates are provided below to help gather and analyse the data.

 



Scoring Tests

1. Samples are scored on a scale, between like and dislike.

2. Allow people to evaluate samples and score (place) in order of preference.

3. Record their responses.


Paired Comparison Tests 1

Paired Comparison Test (Preference)

1. Prepare two samples of the food product you wish to test.
2. Ask each taster which product they prefer.
3. Record the response from the tasters.

ICT: A template is provide to help gather and analyse data.

 



Paired Comparison Tests 2

Paired Comparison Test (Discrimination)

1. Prepare two samples of the food product you wish to test.

2. Compare one attribute, e.g. which one is smoother?

3. Record the response from the tasters.

ICT: A template is provided to help gather and analyse data.



Triangle Test

1. Prepare three samples, two of which are the same.

2. Arrange the samples in a triangle.

3. Decide which of the samples is the odd one out.

4. Record the responses from the tasters.

ICT: A template to help gather and analyse the data is provided below.



Duo Trio Test

1. Prepare three samples, two of which are the same.

2. Using one of the two identical samples as a control, decide which of the other samples is the same as the control.

3. Record the tasters responses.

ICT: A template is provide to help gather and analyse data.



Ranking

1. Decide on the attribute to be ranked, e.g. crunchiness.

2. Allow people to evaluate samples and place them in rank order.

3. Record the responses.


Star Diagram/Star Chart

This type of test allows a single food products, or range of food products, intensity of its sensory attributes to be recorded. They are NOT intended to model general attributes such as 'nutrition', 'cost' or 'appearance', as they are more complex are better dealt with in other ways.

The test can be used to:

  • evaluate differences in similar products;
  • gauge consumer response;
  • analyse specific attributes, e.g. shortness;
  • check that a food product meets its original specification;
  • compare similarities in a range of products
    show new opportunities for product development.

How to Model Sensory Attributes

1. Choose a range of attributes that describe the characteristics of the product, e.g. crunchy, spicy or smooth.

2. Decide on the intensity of each attribute, using a scale from 0 to 10 (the higher the number the greater the intensity).

3. Use the information to product a star diagram/chart of the product's attributes.

ICT: A number of Excel templates are provided to help gather and analyse data. Note: Although the files suggest comparing 2-5 'products', the same star diagrams can be used to gather information from 2-5 'people' about the same product.