posted 7/11/2013 by Nicole
Sensory evaluation is something we all do every day without knowing it, for example when we smell the milk to check that it’s ok before we put it on our cereal, or thinking about the softness of a tissue when we blow our nose, or just noticing someone’s perfume as they walk past. Sensory evaluation has many applications ranging from the food we eat, to dog food (yes people actually get paid to taste pet food!), to toilet paper and skin care products. Sensory evaluation relies on the human senses to assess the smell, taste and texture of a product, so unlike other scientists who rely on machines, sensory scientists rely on humans to be their instrument.
The Food Technology Program at SARDI provides technical support for small to medium food businesses in South Australia in collaboration with Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) and FoodSA. As a sensory technologist I assist food manufacturers in various ways including: determining shelf-life, new product development or ingredient modifications, quality improvement, as well as recruiting consumers to evaluate the flavour of a product or to evaluate a product against a competitor’s. A great aspect of working in sensory science is that it draws on knowledge from a range of areas such as chemistry, statistics, marketing and psychology.
What I love most about being a Sensory Technologist at SARDI is being able to help local food businesses grow by assisting them with new product development or product improvement. I also really enjoy being able to try new and exciting foods!
At high school I studied chemistry, mathematics and home economics before enrolling in a Bachelor of Food Science and Nutrition at university. There are no degrees in sensory science so I completed an honours project in sensory science and flavour chemistry, where I got to investigate the aroma and flavour differences between cocoa beans from different countries around the world. I then decided to continue studying and am currently finishing my PhD at The University of Adelaide. My PhD research is looking at how winemaking practices affect the aroma and flavour of red wine.
Degrees in food science: