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How to conduct a sensory analysis test: the golden rules

14 Jul 2023

Sensory Analysis
Consumer Insights

Embark on a journey into the captivating realm of Sensory Analysis, where the art of understanding consumer wishes, perceptions, and preferences meets the science of translating them into delectable recipes and precise process specifications. In this article, we reveal the key principles behind accurate taste evaluations, and how our surroundings affect our food experiences. Discover the scientific methods used to make fair judgments and understand the importance of Sensory Analysis in enhancing the flavors we enjoy. Join us as we uncover the secrets of this invaluable tool and how Puratos uses it to create exceptional taste experiences for all.

Discover the golden rules:

Your environment defines your tasting behavior

Imagine your customers sharing and savoring a cheesecake together. Would they all appreciate it in the same way? What if they were informed that it has reduced fat content - would the taste stay the same? And how would their perception be affected if others expressed dislike due to high sugar levels, or if they enjoyed it alone at home?

Research shows that when we eat a product, we are influenced by various factors surrounding it. Our judgment of the taste isn't solely based on flavor; it also incorporates other elements such as our surroundings, social environment, product information like labels and branding, and even our culture and past food experiences.

Unrecognizable females having a dessert in cafe

Why set a scientific frame?

It's incredibly challenging, even nearly impossible, to disregard all these factors when tasting a product, as they significantly influence our judgment of its taste. This is because our brain combines all these elements to create a holistic image of the product. So, how can we truly understand what people think about a product's taste when so many factors impact their perception? This is where a scientific framework becomes essential.

In Sensory Analysis, we apply specific conditions and rules to reduce or control the influence of external elements that may affect the evaluations. During sensory tests, we ensure consistency by presenting products in a neutral environment and under the same conditions. It's vital that evaluations take place in a quiet space, free from distracting noises or odors. The room's lighting and temperature are standardized to maintain stable testing conditions between each assessment. To further maintain consistency, white trays, plates, and cutlery are commonly used.

By adhering to these scientific practices, we gain valuable insights into the true taste of a product, overcoming the complexities posed by external influences.

Specific evaluation rules

To obtain relevant results from sensory tests, we follow specific evaluation rules:

  1. Each sensory judge works individually, with no contact with others during the evaluation. This ensures unique and unbiased judgments, free from group influence. In the sensory laboratory, judges sit in individual cabins designed for independent work.

  2. Judges cannot identify the products; each sample is assigned a random 3-digit or 3-letter code. This eliminates any influence from product-related information, allowing impartial assessments.

  3. To counter the potential impact of sample presentation order, we randomize the sequence for each judge. This controls the effect across the entire group and ensures fairness.

  4. Both questions from the researcher and judges' answers are recorded on a standardized form. This prevents interpretation issues, misunderstandings, or undue influence from the researcher.

This scientific process is fundamental for studying product sensations. It's essential to acknowledge our sensitivity to various influences beyond taste and recognize the inherent limitations of subjectivity in our assessments.

How can we help you?

At Puratos, we conduct all sensory evaluations in line with these principles. Our expert sensory panels carry out internal tests within our dedicated sensory laboratories, while we also engage end-consumers in external tests using our Sensobusses. This meticulous approach ensures that we measure people's reactions to product taste in a valid and reliable manner.

Are you curious about how to set your products apart with unique taste experiences?