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Sensory evaluation

Sensory evaluation is a scientific discipline used to evoke, measure, analyse and interpret reactions to those characteristics of foods and materials, as they are perceived by the senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.

The scientific description of food is important to improve product quality and to develop new products for the market. Almost all of the food products available on shelves today was developed, and the specific characteristics unique to that product, informed by sensory evaluation.

Many businesses uses sensory evaluation as a tool to better understand their target market, define product concepts, streamline the development of formulations and substitute ingredients. This concept became particularly important with expanding world markets. The expansion stimulated and accelerated the food industry's world-wide requirement for new products, quality improvements, and extended shelf-life. The sensory evaluation of food is central to the success of this expansion.

Consumer acceptance and preference is an important aspect, and often overlooked. when products are altered. Ensuring that a product will sell is pivotal to any company's success, emphasising the importance of the sensory evaluation of food products.

The UFS Sensory lab is equipped to deliver a variety of sensory analysis and consulting services to both internal and external clients. Our highly trained team of professionals are ready to facilitate your choice of sensory evaluation.

The sensory testing and evaluation of food and beverage products is a service offered on a regular basis. It is done in the form of Student panels, Consumer panels and Trained panels. 

Student panels

As part of training to third-year and final-year students, to assist with product development projects. This service will be used by undergraduate and postgraduate students and will occupy 50% of the Sensory lab time.

Consumer panels

Panels where the acceptability of products are evaluated.  These panels consist of members of the public, according to a specific target market, identified by the client. Specific sensory elements are evaluated, according to the brief of the client. These tests are normally done to test the readiness of a product to be launched into a specific market. 

Panels can be identified as convenient panels, where the lab can suggest their own panel members that subscribe to the target market brief of the client, or prescribed panels, according to a specific requirement from the client, meaning that panel members are specifically sourced for the project. 

Different tests, completed with consumers, include: the just-about-right (JAR) scale; the check-all-that-apply (CATA) question, the latter being used to describe a product, using a provided lexicon.

Trained panels

An in-house panel of 12 – 15 members are trained over varying periods of time to be able to describe products, according to sensory definitions.  This panel can also indicate the level at which an attribute is present, by using an anchored scale. This is called descriptive sensory analysis and although very costly and time-consuming, it is a very accurate technique.

To book your panel, or for more information please contact Dr Carina Bothma or Liezl van der Walt.

Sensory Lab Taste Hear Sell Feel Sensory Lab Decal SmellSensory Lab See Taste Hear Smell Touch 
Sensory Lab Preparation AreaSensory Lab Tasting Area with Red light Sensory Lab Cubicle 1 


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531


Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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