Sensory Evaluation Capabilities

What types of sensory and consumer tests does the WSU Sensory Science Center conduct?

A wide variety of tests can be conducted in the WSU Sensory Science Center. Specific testing and research opportunities may be developed and designed as needed by the client. Specific types of tests include:

  • Consumer acceptance and preference: These types of tests are used to determine the acceptance of food, beverages, or other products and may use acceptance questions, willingness to purchase questions, or preference questions. This type of test can be conducted in an in-lab test or as a home-use test.
  • Difference/Similarity tests: We uses these tests to compare products to determine overall differences or probe-specific difference in attributes. Overall difference tests that we employ include the triangle test, duo-trio, tetrad test, and difference from control tests.  When a specific attribute is of interest, we use a ranked attribute test or a paired comparison.
  • Attribute diagnostic tests: We use these types of tests to examine products for appropriateness of specific sensory attributes using just-about-right questions. Responses to these questions can be used to understand how to adjust specific product properties to increase liking.
  • Trained panel profiling:  We offer services from our trained sensory evaluation panels to evaluate appearance, aroma, flavour, taste, texture, and mouthfeel attributes for specific foods and beverages.
  • Threshold determination: We use threshold testing to determine the concentration of a flavour or taste compound that causes a change in perception.
  • Focus groups: We can convene focus groups to discuss products or services, following a questioning route built around the information needed.

Sensory Software

Compusense sensory software is used for all panel scheduling, screener and ballot presentation, data collection and data handling.  The WSU School of Food Science is also a member of the Compusense Academic Consortium.

What types of statistical analysis does the WSU Sensory Science Center provide?

In addition to conducting sensory evaluation testing, the WSU Sensory Science Center is trained in appropriate sensory analysis methods. These methods include:

  • Analysis of variance (including mean separation methods) for parametric data
  • Kruskal-Wallis for non-parametric data
  • Cochran’s Q for check-all-that-apply data
  • Penalty Analysis and Chi Square for “just about right” questions,
  • Friedman’s Rank Sum for ranked data
  • Multivariate techniques, including Principal Component Analysis, Partial Least Squares, Internal and External Preference Mapping, Factor Analysis, Agglomerative Hierarchical clustering