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Modern sensory practices

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When dealing with dairy foods, sensory quality is always involved on some level. The best raw materials and ingredients produce the best products; hence, sensory quality is a crucial consideration for finished product ingredients such as fluid and dried milk. The sensory perception of finished products such as ice cream and cheese is also most critical. In many instances, a general measurement of product quality or consistency may be all that is required. For the majority of product and market research endeavors, more detailed and complex information on sensory properties is required. The application of sensory perception is one of the keys to the nearly ubiquitous wholesome and flavorful image that dairy foods continue to enjoy with consumers. Due to the pivotal role that sensory perception occupies with the marketing of dairy foods, some means of sensory measurement is often a final step in product development. Sensory science is a relatively young discipline, which has been in formal existence for roughly 60 years. Many food technologists attribute its birth as a science in the 1940 s with the development of "consumer" or hedonic food acceptance methodologies by the US Army Corps of Engineers. However, its scientific roots trace back to the 1800s with the development and application of psychological theories to measure and predict human responses to external stimuli (Lawless and Heymann, 1999). Certainly, the importance of sensory quality is ageless, with basic capitalism driving individuals to market and sell the best and freshest products. As with other fields of science, sensory science has progressed with time and continues to evolve. Specific scientific methods have been developed to accurately, reproducibly, and either objectively or subjectively measure or estimate human responses to stimuli. Sensometrics is a field of sensory science that is specifically devoted to development of tests to accurately measure human responses. Sensory science is widely applied across many categories of consumer goods, ranging from personal care products to pharmaceutical products to foods. For all of these product categories, sensory perception must be considered. The degree of "like" and "dislike" is not the only question answered by sensory analysis. Trained panelists can be used to generate data that are objective and analogous to instrumental data. Threshold tests can be used to estimate sensory thresholds, and qualitative tests can be used to determine consumer emotional responses to products. Consumer perception, as well as the degree of like and dislike, can be addressed; the impact of storage, ingredient substitution, packaging, and process variability can be quantified; and relationships can be established between instrumental tests and sensory perception. Dozens of types of sensory tests exist and can be fine-tuned to meet a specific objective. Too often in sensory studies, a sensory test may be an afterthought to an experiment or alternatively an inappropriate test is used or an appropriate test is selected but somehow misused. When these unfortunate sensory study situations occur, pragmatic results and conclusions cannot be made, just as the same situation would apply with any other scientific test inappropriately selected or conducted. Prior knowledge of which tests are available and when and how to use them will yield powerful results. © 2009Springer-Verlag New York.




Drake, M. A. (2009). Modern sensory practices. In The Sensory Evaluation of Dairy Products (pp. 505–530). Springer US.

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