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Sensory Evaluation Techniques on Beverage and Food Products

Kathryn Enstad
October 27, 2014
Nutrition 205, Section 2

The purpose of this study was to utilize sensory evaluation techniques for
food and beverages, in order to analyze consumer preferences. The Foods and
Nutrition students who were enrolled in Nutr205: Introduction to Food Science Lab
were the group of panelists that were utilized for this experiment. All tests were
conducted in the West Commons203 classroom. The sensory tests that were
administered included color association, evaluation through use of descriptive
terms, paired comparison, triangle test, ranking test, duo-trio, and a scoring test.
Colored liquids were used to look at for the color association test, and apple juice
samples with different concentrations of citric acid were used for the paired
comparison, triangle test, ranking, and scoring. For the duo-trio test and
descriptive terms analysis, different food items such as wafer cookies, almond,
raisins, marshmallows, and gold fish were used. Lighter beverages had a higher
preference rate, and were perceived as more sour and natural, and the more
vibrant liquids had an increased percentage of artificialness and sweetness with a
lower preference percentage. Citric acid concentrations could be detected using
various difference tests, all which were effective. The descriptive term analysis
was not effective in the description of the food items used. The difference tests
that were administered showed to be extremely effective, with over 93% accuracy
for most tests. Ranking tests showed to be just as effective as descriptive tests.
All techniques utilized in sensory evaluation proved to be significant ways to
analyze food products for improvement of food products for consumers.

Eating and drinking should be pleasurable. The sensory experiences
evoked by foods and beverages are key to the delivery of pleasure and crucial to
commercial success. (Kemp, 2008). Sensory tests have been conducted for as
long as people have been evaluating the quality of food, water, weapons, shelters,
and everything that can be consumed. In the early 1900s grading gave rise to a
professional industry of sensory evaluation. A major role in the development of
sensory testing was played by the Food Science Department at the University of
California at Davis, resulting in the book by Amerine, Pangborn, and Roessler.
(Meilgaard and Others 2007). Sensory testing is a way to evaluate alternative
courses in selecting a product that optimizes values for money. The main uses of
sensory evaluation techniques are quality control, product development, and
research. Many fields of study utilize these techniques to evaluate products, but
the primary function of a sensory test is to provide significant data on which
decisions can be made. (Meilgaard and Others 2007). When testing for quality in a
food product, the factors that are measured are appearance, flavor, taste, aroma,
texture, and mouthfeel. Understanding each of the components to quality
measures is important as well. The term appearance includes, the outside surface
condition of food, the size, shape, and color. Flavor is the combination of taste and
aroma. Taste it the gustatory sensations, and aroma is the sense of smell, which
strongly influences acceptance or rejection of a food. Texture characteristics are
the response of the tactile senses to the physical qualities of a food product.
Finally, mouthfeel is a sensation that is determined by the lining of the mouth.

(Walter and Others2015) Both sensory (subjective) and objective evaluation

methods are utilized in the food production industry to assist in consumer
acceptance. Subjective tests evaluate food products based on the sensory
characteristics and preference of a specific individual. The objective tests utilize
laboratory methods to evaluate certain chemical and physical properties of food
products. (Brown, 2015).
An example of an experiment that utilized sensory evaluation techniques
was the nutrition, sensory evaluation, and performance analysis of hydrogenated
frying oils. This study was done to test the acceptability factors as the different
oils became oxidized over a 10-day period, the performance of oils via the foodto-oil ratio, and the free fatty acid content. In this test, the temperature and time
spent frying French fries was consistent throughout the experiment. In addition,
all panelists were untrained consumers of French fries, and panelists understood
the terminology of sensory data collection. In the study, there was 90lbs of fatfree frozen French fries fried at 350 degrees for 3 minutes each day. Once fried,
each basket was shaken for 30 seconds, then set for 15 seconds at a 60-degree
angle, and shaken again for an additional 10 seconds. No salt was added to the
fries, and oil was filtered at the end of each day to determine the food-to-oil ratio.
10-15 French fries were labeled and given to panelists in a random order. Each
sample was a fresh batch of French fries. Panelists were asked to grade each
sample on color, texture, initial taste, and satisfaction level (based on a sevenpoint hedonic scale). Results from the test showed that there was no significantly
higher or lower acceptance rate of oils with trans-fat free oils. In this study, the
transition of using trans fat-free oils into operations is seamless-the oils are

competitive with the trans fat oils, and are more acceptable overall when levels of
unhealthy fats are considered. (Hack, 2009).
This study shows the importance of sensory evaluation. Without the testing
of sensory evaluation, food service operators that base their menus around deepfat frying would not know if it would be profitable to switch to healthier trans fatfree oil. This study supported that the acceptability amongst the different oils did
not significantly differ, and therefore, switching to trans fat-free oil would still be
profitable in regards to sensory acceptability. However, stability is another factor
that needs to be addressed when discussing sensory evaluation. Frying oils have a
very limited frying life, and if food service operators have to spend a lot more
money on trans fat-free oils then profits would be lost. The oils that were studied
in this study used new formulas for trans fat-free oils and compared them with
stable trans fat oils. The compared oils were both significantly stable. Thus, the
transition to trans fat-free oils would be profitable in both sensory acceptability
and stability. (Hack and Others 2009).
In a separate study, different commercial pastas were assessed on sensory
evaluation, cooking properties, texture, and pasta quality. This was done to isolate
the most important measures related to pasta quality between sensory properties
and textural measurements. For this study, five commercial wheat spaghetti
products were purchased and labeled Com1-Com5. A chemical analysis was
conducted by testing moisture content, protein content, and ash content. Then,
tests were conducted to determine cooking properties of the five different pastas.
Each sample of pasta was tested on optimal cooking time, cooking loss, water
absorption, amylose content in cooking water, and color. Finally, a sensory

evaluation and textural analysis was done. The sensory evaluation was performed
by a non-trained group of participants. The staff administered a generic
descriptive analysis technique. Sensory attributes include: yellow color, shininess,
surface smoothness, texture evaluated in daylight by manipulating the samples in
the mouth, firmness, chewiness, texture evaluated in daylight by manipulating
samples using the hands, surface stickiness, and elasticity. Samples were
presented simultaneously, with order completely randomized. A 7-point scale was
used to score various attributes, where 1 represented low intensity and 7
represented high intensity. There was water provided to cleanse the pallet
between each sample. A final textural analysis was conducted by using various
lab techniques and equipment to determine firmness and stickiness in each pasta
The chemical analysis results showed that moisture and protein content
were similar for all pasta samples, but ash content had increased variance. For the
determination of cooking properties, hard wheat flours showed to have a longer
optimal cooking time. The results for color-which is an important quality factor for
consumers- were obtained on a 1-10 scale of best qualification. Sensory
evaluation of yellow color, shininess, surface smoothness, firmness, chewiness,
surface stickiness, and elasticity showed that there were no significant differences
among all of the samples. For the textural analysis, hardness and firmness were
found to have no correlation. Of the five samples, Com1 and Com3 seemed to
have more similarity in results, and Com2, 4, and 5 seemed to group in similarity
of results (Martinez, 2007). Sensory evaluation testing allows food production
companies to alter food products to make them more appealing and consumer

friendly, while still being profitable for food service operators. Different techniques
can be utilized for sensory evaluation. Multiple techniques should be utilized when
testing food products, in order to have a well-rounded analysis of a food product.
Participants in the sensory evaluation lab of Nutrition 205 included all 89
students from the four sections of the Nutrition 205 class at San Diego State
University. One hundred percent (100%) of the panelists were enrolled in the
Foods and Nutrition major at San Diego State University and were all
undergraduate students as well. Panelists were asked to fill out some
demographic information before the beginning of class, which included age,
gender, major, student status, marital status, living situation, if they smoked, and
any allergies. Of the 89 panelists, only 15.73% were male, and the other 84.27%
were female. The panelists had a wide range of age differences, 56.18% were in
between 19 and 22 years old, 34.83% were between the ages of 23 and 27 years
old, and 7.87% were 28 years or older. The panelists were mainly single (88.76%),
there were 9.00% married and 2.25% divorced. Of the 89 panelists 73.03% lived
with 2 or more roommates, 23.60% lived with one other person, and only 3.37%
lived alone. The panelists also consisted mainly of non-smokers (98.88%). There
were 12.36% of panelists with allergies. Of these allergies, 1.12% had a chocolate
allergy, 3.37% had dairy allergy, 1.12% had an egg allergy, 3.37% had wheat
allergy, 1.12% had a meat/poultry allergy, 2.25% had a milk protein allergy,
3.37% had a fish allergy, 1.12% had a MSG allergy, 1.12% had a shellfish allergy,
1.12% had a green melon allergy, and 1.12% had a nut allergy.

All of the tests that were conducted were held in the Nutrition 205 Lab in
the West Commons classroom 203. All panelists were seated in a desk facing the
front of the classroom. There was florescent lighting, and the room was kept at
comfortable room temperature. Panelists could see the other panelists, but were
asked to base their decisions off of their own thoughts and not speak while tests
were being conducted.
Experiment 1: Association of Color in Beverages with Sourness,
Sweetness, and Preference:
In the Color Association Test, five liquids were placed in clear glass beakers
at the front of the classroom. All five beakers had been stored in the refrigerator
previously. The beakers were lined up light yellow, dark yellow, chartreuse, dark
chartreuse, and emerald respectively. Panelists were then asked which beaker,
according to color, looked the sweetest, the most sour, most artificial, most
natural, and which would be preferred and disliked the most. Results were
recorded for each set of attributes, and then the next sets of questions were
presented. Panelists were asked if the liquids would be preferably consumed at a
variety of temperatures, cold, tepid, warm and hot respectively. Multiple
temperatures for each beverage could be chosen. Then, panelists were asked, of
each of the liquids, which ones would be preferably consumed. Finally, all
panelists were asked, Do you drink apple juice and all results were recorded. All
the results were obtained through a hand count on raised hands, and then
inputted into an excel document.
Evaluation of Food Products with the Use of Descriptive Terms:

A descriptive test was performed to detail the flavors and textures of

almonds, marshmallows, goldfish, and raisins. The panelists were instructed to
bring an assigned list of descriptive terms to use to describe each item. Only one
term could be used to describe each item. Items were described based off of
appearance, aroma, flavor, texture, consistency, and mouthfeel. Two of each item
placed in a sample cup was handed to each panelist, and panelists were asked to
wait until instructed to begin. Once all samples were handed out panelists were
able to test each item. Panelists had water to cleanse the pallet between each
sample. Panelists were asked to record the results in Table A-1 of the class lab
manual. Once complete, the lab instructor asked for a vote of terms for each item
that was sampled. During the voting process there were many recounts that had
to happen because of confusion of which characteristic was being described, and
because total votes were not adding up. This could have affected results. All the
data was collected and recorded in an excel spreadsheet.
Experiment B - Paired Comparison:
In experiment B, panelists were asked to determine the level of sourness in
two 1oz. samples of apple juice. For all taste tests that were conducted, panelists
were provided with room temperature water to cleanse their pallets. Panelists
sitting at the front of the classroom were asked to prepare a tray of samples for
the rest of the panelists, and themselves, in their row. Each front-row person was
instructed to fill two sample cups with the corresponding liquids. Both liquids were
coded and only the lab instructors knew the sensory key. Each panelist was given
liquid 635T1 and liquid 573T2. Panelists did not know which sample contained 0%
and which contained 1% citric acid. Panelists were asked to remain silent and to

not make any facial expressions during the testing period. All participants were
instructed to sample each liquid, and then record their thoughts on sourness in
Table B-1 in the Understanding Food Principles and Preparation laboratory manual.
Once panelists were finished recording their results, the lab instructor asked for a
show of hands on who thought which liquid had the most intense sour
characteristic. Finally, after hands were counted, all results were recorded in the
excel spreadsheet.
Experiment C Triangle Test:
In this experiment, a triangle test was conducted. There were three samples
of apple juice, labeled 777C1, 542E2, and 112H9. Two of which were zero
percentage of citric acid, and one that was one percent. Panelists had to identify
which sample of apple juice was different. Again, all panelists were asked to not
speak or make facial expressions for the duration of the sample period, and water
was still available to drink in between samples. The first panelist in each row of
desks was instructed to retrieve the set of samples for each panelist in the row. All
panelists were blind, as to which samples contained certain percentages of citric
acid. Samples were given to all panelists simultaneously, and then panelists were
instructed to begin. Once done with the samples, panelists were told to record
their results in Table C-1 in the class laboratory manual. Then, the lab instructor
asked for a show of hands in order to count the results of the triangle test. Results
were recorded on the excel spreadsheet.
Experiment D Ranking:
This ranking test was a difference test where five different samples of apple
juice with different concentrations of citric acid were simultaneously presented,

and panelists ranked samples in order of intensity of sourness. Samples were

ranked in descending order of intensity with the most intense ranked number one.
In addition to ranking sourness, panelists were asked to rank each sample based
on preference (one would be most preferable and 5 would be least) Panelists were
reminded to not speak with the people around them, and to keep faces blank.
Water cups were refilled if needed, and still available to drink between each
sample. The first panelist in each row was then told to retrieve the coded samples
for themselves and the people in the corresponding row. Samples were coded in
the following order, 695F8, 495P2, 192L3, 543K8, and 555D7. The different levels
of citric acid were 2.5%, 0%, 5%, 1%, and 10% respectively. The panelists
retrieving all of the sample cups were still blind in knowing the percentages of
citric acid added to each sample. Once each panelist had all the sample cups,
panelists were instructed to begin to sample each cup, and record their results in
table D-1 of the lab manual. As soon as each panelist was finished, the lab
instructor collected all of the results through a show of hands. The collected data
was recorded onto an excel spreadsheet.
Experiment 2 Duo-Trio:
This duo-trio test was administered by providing three samples of vanilla
wafers. There was a standard cookie that was to be sampled first. Following the
standard cookie, panelists were presented with two other cookies, and were asked
to identify which cookie matched the standard. There were still water cups
available to cleanse the pallet of the panelists between each sample. Each sample
was coded, the standard was coded 8175, and then following was sample 6104
and sample 1108. The standard cookie was a Nabisco Nilla Wafer, sample 6104

was a First Street (Smart and Final) Vanilla Wafer, and sample 1108 was another
Nabisco Nilla Wafer. Panelists were instructed to sample all three cookies, and
then identify which cookie matched the standard. The lab TA walked around the
class to hand out each different sample one at a time. Panelists were asked to
remain silent and record their results. Along with identifying which cookie
matched the standard, panelists were asked how the non-match differed based on
dryness, crunchiness, and intensity of vanilla flavoring. Results were collected by
a show of hands, and then recorded on to the excel spreadsheet.
Experiment 3 Scoring
A scoring test was conducted to determine the intensity of sourness with
apple juice samples compared with a standard sourness of a sample. In this test,
citric acid levels varied from 1%, 2.5%, and 5%. Samples were coded 0110, 420M,
and S723 respectively. The standard sample, which panelists were to refer to, was
sample 420M with citric acid level 2.5%, and was asked to give a level of foursourness. Panelists could assign sourness level based on a 1-7 scale for the other
samples. Panelists at the front of each row were asked to retrieve the samples for
every person in the coordinating row. As panelists were receiving the samples
they were reminded to remain silent, and water was still available to sip between
each taste. All panelists were blind as to what percentage of citric acid was in
each sample. When panelists were finished scoring, results were collected and
recorded in an excel spreadsheet.
Association of Color in Beverages with Sourness, Sweetness, and

Of the five beverages, the emerald beverage was said to be the sweetest,
with a 39% vote. The dark yellow beverage came in at second sweetest with a
vote of 19%. Closely after came the light yellow liquid with an 18% vote for
sweetest beverage, then dark chartreuse with a 14%, and finally chartreuse at
10% (Figure 1).

The light yellow liquid was said to look the most sour, with a vote percentage of
44 %. At second most sour was dark yellow with a percent of 20%. Then, the dark
chartreuse had a 17% vote, chartreuse had a 16 %, and finally emerald with a 3%
vote of most sour looking liquid (Figure 2).

Eighty-five percent (85%) of the nutrition 205 class thought that the emerald
liquid looked to be the most artificial. The next percentage of panelists that
thought dark chartreuse was most artificial was 8%. The dark yellow beverage
came in at 4, followed by chartreuse at 2%. Zero percent of the panelists thought
the light yellow liquid looked to be the most artificial (Figure 3).

A majority of panelists, 94%, believed the light yellow beverage looked to be the
most natural. Only 4% of the participants believed that the dark yellow liquid

looked the most natural. Zero percent of the panelists thought that chartreuse,
dark chartreuse, and emerald looked to be the most natural (Figure 4).

The light yellow liquid was most preferred by panelists, with a 69% vote. Coming
in second place for most preferred was chartreuse with an 11%. Third most
preferred was dark chartreuse, at 9%. Followed by dark yellow with an 8%, and
last 2% of panelists preferred emerald most (Figure 5).