Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Assessment of food texture by consumers

The project involves the following areas: identification of characteristics of the mastication (chewing) process which may act as sensory cues for the assessment of food texture; examination of the extent of individual variation in these characteristics; examination of the influence of individual differences on the perceptions of texture by ordinary consumers. Methods have been developed to record and analyse the mastication process. The chewing patterns of 20 ordinary consumers were recorded as they ate a series of 8 meat samples which exhibited a wide range of tenderness. The subjects differed markedly in their chewing patterns and in the way they accommodated to the different samples. Simultaneous with eating each sample the subjects recorded their assessments of the tenderness of the sample throughout the chewing period, providing a time intensity (TI) record. The consumers differed in their concepts of tenderness as reflected in the shapes of the TI curves obtained. For over 50 % of consumers there was no significant correlation between their assessments of tenderness and those given by a trained sensory panel; correlation with instrumental texture measurements was low. However, 16 of the consumers showed a significant correlation between their assessments and the amount of work undertaken by their masticatory muscles in chewing the samples. A significant correlation between tenderness assessment and chewing time or number of chews was found for 9 or 10 subjects respectively It would appear that the muscle effort involved in chewing is a masticatory marker for assessment of meat tenderness and that differences in the consumers' assessments of tenderness relate to differences in the way they chew the samples. No significant correlations were found between sensory assessments and a variety of dental parameters, however, some influences of chewing function on chewing patterns and tenderness perceptions were evident.