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Instrumental assessment of food sensory quality: A practical guide

Most food industry professionals would agree that when assessing food and drink sensory quality, the ideal approach is to use trained sensory panels and target consumers. Unfortunately, this is not always possible for practical and economic reasons. This means that having an idea of the scope and potential of instrumental methods for assessment of sensory quality is vital. The key is to understand what can be measured, how reliable and pragmatic the measurement tools are and whether their output shows a good correlation with sensory response.

‘Instrumental Assessment of Food Sensory Quality: A practical guide’ is a detailed presentation and discussion of current practice and methods available for determining food and drink sensory quality using instrumental methods.

The book is a well edited compilation of in-depth chapters by a wide range One is struck instantly by two things: the valiant attempt to cover all areas of seafood processing and the widely spread affiliations, geographically speaking, of the authors.’ of contributors. It starts with a short introduction on the measurement of sensory quality of food, written by the editor. The main body of the book consists of three sections:

• Underlying principles that are used in the measurement of key factors that contribute to perceived quality (appearance, flavour, texture, and viscosity).
• More advanced instrumental methods (colour measurement, flavour measurement, non-destructive testing, in-mouth measurement, food authentication and the handling of instrumental data relevant to sensory quality).
• Practical application of instrumental measurements for individual food and beverage categories (meat, poultry and fish, baked goods, dry crisp products, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, wine, beer and juices).

The large range of methods and applications covered in great technical detail makes this book relevant for teaching and for those involved in diverse sensory quality projects. The comprehensiveness of the references included with every chapter and the overall index mean that the book is a good starting point for readers to familiarise themselves with the current state of instrumental sensory quality options and methodologies for any given sensory modality or food and drink application area. In addition, the layout of the book makes it easy to use and find relevant information.

For sensory scientists and generalist food and drink researchers, all aspects of the book will be interesting and relevant, although the theoretical detail in some chapters is challenging. The chapters in the first section provide a good background. For non-sensory scientists or those readers with interests in only one sector or one type of instrumental analysis, only a few chapters of the book may be directly useful. One of these is ‘Advances in analysis of instrumental food sensory quality data’, which presents a useful (although quite mathematical) overview of exploratory data analysis, regression and classification.

A lot of information is covered within the book, but there are some important omissions. In particular, although there is a short section in the introductory chapter devoted to analysis and validation of instrumental methods and some mention of correlating instrumental measurements to sensory response in other chapters, there is no chapter expressly devoted to strategies and approaches for developing robust predictive relationships. In addition, the third (practical application) section does not include a chapter on confectionery and chocolate, although this is an area where sensory quality is very important and instrumental methods can be used in a variety of interesting ways.

Overall, this is a very large and detailed book covering a wide range of methods and product types, with a huge number of useful references. It represents good value and is recommended as a worthwhile addition to the bookshelf of any sensory scientist, technical manager or generalist food and drink researcher.

Carol Raithatha (Director), Carol Raithatha Limited (Sensory, consumer, and food & drink research consultancy), 44 Friars Quay, Norwich, NR3 1ES, UK.
Tel: 44 (0)1603 619 847, M: 07884183788 Email: Web:

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