Crispy, crumbly or chewy? Exploring the human touch in sensory analysis

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Consumer expectations differ for a range of product attributes, often due to regional preference
Consumer expectations differ for a range of product attributes, often due to regional preference

Related tags: Bread, Sense

Human beings may be fallible, but they are still a crucial tool in the process of sensory analysis, according to DuPont Nutrition & Health.

The company claims its ingredient range could help prevent bake-off breads from becoming leathery and chewy over time – a common problem with the crust of bake-off bread. However, the solution depends on a variety of factors, often driven by regional texture preferences.

“Despite everything that modern technology can offer, human senses are still indispensable to making a meaningful evaluation of the appearance, taste, smell, feel and sound of a food sample,”​ senior scientist and sensory lab manager at DuPont Nutrition & Health, Stine Møller.

In a video​ explaining how a sensory panel would assess the crispiness and texture of baguettes, she outlines the part of the analysis process that takes over where laboratory analysis leaves off.

Sensory panellists are trained and calibrated to ensure they understand exactly what they are looking for before they assess samples, she said.

“That means that when you are chewing you are using the molars, when you are biting you are using the front teeth. And we have to explain that so they are handling all the breads in the same way, and that’s the only way you can have an evaluation that’s the same from time to time.”

Looking at the results, Møller noted that whether they were made with enzymes, lecithin or DATEM, all the samples were crisp, but the choice of ingredients changed the sensory attributes of the bread; some were chewier and some were crumblier, for example.

“You’ll choose the ingredients depending on what kind of crispiness you are wanting,”​ she said.

Møller said that consumers in different parts of the world have differing expectations of bite, chewing time and texture, among other attributes.

“The most successful bakers are those who are best able to satisfy these preferences.”

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