Category Archives: Post of the month

Post of the month August 2019


Cristina Proserpio, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences, University of Milan, Italy.

The Italian Sensory Science Society (SISS) and the European Sensory Science Society (E3S) in collaboration with Monica Laureati and Ella Pagliarini from the Sensory & Consumer Science research group of the University of Milan have organized the 8th E3S & SISS Symposium “Tasting the Future in Sensory and Consumer Science”, which was held in Milan from 27th to 28th of May.

Around 120 delegates attended, involving scientists from different countries from all over the world.

During the two-days event, an intense program with interesting oral and flash presentations was delivered. Different speakers from industry and academia have provided an overview on emerging directions in sensory and consumer science with a focus on cross-age and cross-gender issues. The level of presentations was really high, and a wide range of topics were covered across the sessions, moving for example through the role of oral microbiota composition on taste perception to the influence of older age on sensory perception and food development.

Young scientists and PhD students had the possibility during the event to give their contribute presenting oral presentations about their research findings. During the event Ervina (NOFIMA) has been awarded for the best student flash presentation.

The social event was held in a beautiful rooftop with a view on the skyline of Milan. A friendly atmosphere during the “aperi-cena” was really useful to do networking with scientists from all over the world. All the delegates enjoyed this event during which they tried both good food and drinks from the Italian cuisine!

This review was written by Cristina Proserpio, postdoctoral researcher (University of Milan)

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Post of the Month June 2019

Factors to consider when planning sensory testing with children

Hannah Jilani, Research associate at the University of Bremen at the Institute for Public Health and Nursing Sciences – IPP and at the Leibniz-Institute of Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS, Bremen in Germany


Children are a valuable group of consumer with specific needs and preferences. Therefore, consumer test results from adults cannot be transferred to children. When conducting consumer tests with children many factors have to be taken into account since physical and cognitive abilities of children are less developed than those of adults (Doty RL & Shah M, 2008). Thus, feasibility needs to be considered when planning sensory testing with children.

  • Tests have to be easy to understand and quick to conduct as children have short attention spans. The whole test procedure should be short and the way of explaining the test to the children has to motivate them to participate and complete the whole test (Knof et al., 2011).
  • The decision making process of children is strongly influenced by adult approval and reaction. Children tend to affirmatively respond to positively phrased questions or change their opinion immediately if asked by an adult (Guinard JX, 2000). A simple question like “Are you sure?” can easily turn a “yes” into a “no”.
  • It should also be considered that parents need to give written informed consent for their children, whilst adolescents who are 12 years and older are allowed giving written informed consent. All children should be orally informed and give their oral consent to participate in the study.
  • Food intolerances in terms of food allergies and food sensitivities are highly prevalent in Europe. Especially sensitivity to monosodium glutamate and gluten (celiac disease) is widely spread in Europe. Therefore, parents need to be asked regarding particular food allergies of their children before the start of the tests.
  • Performing examiners should not use fragrance or perfumed hand cream nor consume cigarettes, coffee, or bubble gum prior to or during the tests. It should be ensured that participating children were neither hungry nor satiated. Ideally, the children had their last meal one hour prior to the test sessions. Moreover, peppermint chewing gum or sweets with a strong taste are not allowed one hour prior to the tests.
  • Test environments are most suitable if these are familiar to the children such as a preschool or school environment. In addition, test environments are supposed to be bright, cosy, friendly, and colourful rooms where children would feel comfortable. However, decoration should not be too colourful to avoid distraction. Furthermore, there should be no undesired odours like strong smell from kitchens or disinfectants.

Further, if sensory tests are performed on a multicentre level within one country or even across countries there are more issues to be considered. Procedures for application within the framework of a multicentre study have to provide comparable results. All survey teams need to be trained in a central training session previous to the survey to assure standardised test performance and preparation of test solutions in each survey centre. The training should be attended by at least one representative of each participating survey centre. This central training should include lessons on behaviour, used vocabulary, and phrasing of questions, as well as lessons on handling the equipment for preparation of test solutions and setting up the test environment. Detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be provided to each survey centre.

Even simple test substances, such as sucrose or sodium chloride, can be standardised through a central supply for all test material: Food samples, test substances and equipment for preparation of test-solutions, as well as equipment such as drinking cups can be purchased centrally and shipped to the survey centres. As an example, to avoid anti-caking and flow-regulating agents which are commonly applied by industry, food samples can be purchased centrally without additives and provided to the survey centres pre-packaged and ‘ready-to-use’ for the preparation of the test solutions.

Taking into consideration that tap water quality differs substantially, demineralised water should be used for all test samples and procedures. Accordingly, the selection of appropriate food samples on a multicentre level can also be very challenging. For example, apple juice which is well accepted in most places can be unfamiliar in some other places. Even for common foods the food industry is known to adapt regional food recipes according to the population’s preferences; thus a standardised recipe is needed in all study centres.


Doty RL, & Shah M. (2008). Taste and Smell. In Marshall MH & Janette BB (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development (pp. 299-308): San Diego: Academic Press.

Guinard JX. (2000). Sensory and consumer testing with children. Trends Food Sci Technol, 11(8), 273-283.

Knof, K., Lanfer, A., Bildstein, M. O., Buchecker, K., Hilz, H., & Consortium, I. (2011). Development of a method to measure sensory perception in children at the European level. International Journal of Obesity (2005), 35 Suppl 1, S131-136. doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.45


Written by: Hannah Jilani

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Post of the month April 2019

A three-month research and training visit at the Wageningen University and Research (WUR)

Lapo Pierguidi, PhD candidate at the University of Florence, Florence, Italy


This is a short summary of my three-month research and training visit at the University of Wageningen (The Netherlands) during 2019.

I am a third-year PhD student at the University of Florence, Italy. My main research areas are sensory and consumer science. In particular, my focus is on the effect of individual differences on perception and appreciation of alcoholic beverages.

During my PhD, my main supervisor Erminio Monteleone professor of Food Science and Sensory Science, encouraged me to spend a part of my PhD abroad in another university. I have chosen to spend a period of three months at Wageningen University and Research (WUR). WUR is a very broad university that offers a wide range of study options in the fields of climate, energy, water, environment, nutrition, health, landscape, and animals. These fields are approached from various perspectives such as economics, management, research, product development, technology, and international cooperation. I decided to join the Marketing and Consumer Behavior (MCB) group headed by Professor Hans Van Trijp to conduct a study under the supervision of Dr. Betina Piqueras-Fiszman.

During my stay in the Netherlands, I started to design and plan a study on the effect of portion size on the choice of healthy and unhealthy snacks. The study is also focusing on consumer individual differences in view of food lifestyles and culture. This research comprised of an online test that will be distributed to consumers across Italy and the Netherlands. This research and study visit was a great opportunity for me since it allowed me to explore new topics and methodologies in the field of consumer behavior and healthy food perception. My stay allowed me to meet many PhD students and researchers and improved my knowledge in different topics that are explored at WUR on an international level. I also appreciated to participate in several “lunch-clubs” that are meetings in which research ideas were presented and discussed to receive feedback and suggestion by the people working in the different research areas. On a personal level, the research and training visit allowed me to experience different ways of living, tasting new foods, and making new acquaintances. The staff and professors of WUR have always been really kind and helpful to me. I am very grateful for this experience.


Welcome to attend the 8th E3S Symposium and General Assembly 2019 organized by the Italian Sensory Science Society and the University of Milan, 27-28th of May 2019 Milan, Italy.

Written by: Lapo Pierguidi (PhD candidate at the University of Florence)




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Post of the month March 2019

A review of the First E3S Student & Early Stage Researcher Group

Knowledge Exchange Webinar

Adriana Galiñanes Plaza, PhD Student at AgroParisTech University and

Institut Paul Bocuse Research Centre, France – 30th January 2019


One of the actions of the E3S Student & Early Stage Researcher Group (SESRG) is to enhance research networks across Europe by sharing our knowledge and experiences in an engaging way. That is why this year we organised the First E3S SESRG Knowledge Exchange Webinar.

When Martha Skinner, the former E3S SESRG Committee Chair, contacted me about this idea around May 2018, I did not hesitate! I have always thought that sharing our knowledge is the best way to improve, to make the difference! So we decided to create a team of students and early stage researcher members in France, where I am currently located.

This incredible team was composed by four members if the French Sensory Analysis Association (SFAS): Anastasia Eschevins, postdoctoral researcher at the Institut Paul Bocuse Research Centre; Jessica Dacleu, research project manager in Altran; Nicolas Seince, sensory project manager in Sanofi and myself, PhD student in consumer science and behavioural economics.

This First Knowledge Exchange Webinar, became a reality on the 30th of January. A total of 40 participants registered for this event. We counted with people from different countries: France, United Kingdom, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Chine, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and The United States.

The webinar lasted for one hour where we had the opportunity to present some of the work carried out in France. Three amazing speakers presented their current research and work. Alexiane Luc, graduate engineer from Agrocampus-Ouest, opened the webinar with a new approach to analyse Free Just About Right (JAR) data with consumers’ opinions. She presented a new method called “Sentiment Mapping”, (a graphical representation like the preference map) where key drivers of (dis)liking are shown. Then, Audrey Cosson, PhD student at INRA – AgroParisTech –Roquette Frère, took the floor and presented her current PhD research about “the perceptions of pea protein isolates in relation with their chemical composition” by using a new method called “Block Profiling”. The Block Profiling is a new and efficient sensory method to evaluate plant-protein isolates using relative-to-reference evaluation for separate blocks of attributes. Following this Block methodology, panellists evaluated the products in a monadic sequential way, beginning systematically with a reference product similar for each evaluation. Finally, Léonor Bonnafous, sensory and consumer scientist at Puratos, told us about her personal experience in the sensory and consumer insight world. She gave us an insight about how different experiences in research and industry can help us in the acquisition of new skills. Participants had time to discuss with the speakers after each presentation, however we would have loved to have more time for it.

Personally, I think that the organisation of this activity was very enriching because it helped me to develop some managerial as well as communicational skills. Moreover, the possibility to exchange with other colleagues and members of the E3S SESRG is always a great occasion to learn and improve the skills. We got very positive feedback from the participants as well as valuable suggestions for future webinars. For follow-up webinars we aim allowing participants to choose the topics and to have a bit more time for questions and discussions subsequent to the presentations.

To conclude I would like to thank all participants for taking part as well as the organising team members for their commitment. Thanks as well to Martha Skinner and Sara Spinelli (E3S secretary) for their suggestions and help.

CALL-TO-ACTION (CTA): We are currently looking for the next host country that would be willing to take this great opportunity to organize the next E3S SESRG webinar. If you want to get involved, please do not hesitate to contact us : We would be glad to help and give tips to the next organizing team.

Written by: Adriana Galiñanes Plaza

PhD student at: Dept. Food Process Engineering, AgroParisTech University & Institut Paul Bocuse Research Centre, France




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Post of the month: February 2019

Post of the month: February 2019

Martha Skinner, first E3S SESRG chair

As some of you may already know, I’ve been Chair of the E3S SESRG since founding it in 2015. I’ve worked hard to lead the group to what it is today, but I’ve loved every minute of it. One of the main aims was to connect early career researchers in sensory and consumer scientists from across Europe. I feel very lucky to have met such a wonderful group of likeminded individuals, and I feel proud with what we’ve managed to achieve in such a short time, by coming together and working towards common goals. You can see a summary of our activities and achievements at the end of this article, but first, it is with sadness to announce that I’m stepping down from my position in leading the group.

Nicolas Seince, the new E3S SESRG chair

However, it gives me great pleasure to announce that the new Chair of the E3S SESRG will be Nicolas Seince from France.

In 2017, Nicolas joined the SESRG as the deputy representative for France. His contributions have included writing a “post of the month” which was posted on the E3S website, and in 2018 he accepted the formal role of ‘social media manager’ of the SESRG group. In 2018 Nicolas attended Eurosense as representative of the group, and assisted in managing the E3S related activities throughout the conference. His most recent contribution was being on the organising committee to host the first ever E3S SESRG webinar, which was a great success.

Nicolas has been working in the Sensory Science field since June 2015. He started in this research area during his Masters at Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (France) under the supervision of Marie Repoux (Valrhona) and Professor Philippe Boulinguez, with his research looking into the kinetics of learning of a trained panel. Then, during his summer vacation he has been working at Centre du Rosé (France) with Clémence Salou. This private research center assesses wine with consumer and expert panels. Here, he studied how consumers described Rosé wine.

Today, Nicolas is a Young Sensory Scientist working at Sanofi (French Pharmaceutical Company) in a Research and Development service. He set up a Sensory Evaluation Laboratory and now he is running the Laboratory and its associated activities. He plans to continue in this field in the future.

Nicolas will outline his plans for the future of the group under his leadership, but first I’d like to summarise what the group has achieved so far!

A look into the past
In 2015 Rocio Dorado (from Spain) and I founded the group, which has continued to grow and grow. We now have over 50 members, and a representative from each country associated with E3S. Their profiles can be found here:

E3S Student and Early Stage Researcher Group Representatives

As the group has become more established we have found the need to appoint an official organising committee, which you can read about here:

This year we started an exciting new initiative in the form of an online student video competition, which was organised by two PhD students who are studying in the Netherlands, Marlou Lasschuijt and Roelien van Bommel. This was won by Marit Nijman, you can see her video here.

E3S Student video competition

We’ve had a group meeting at either Eurosense or Pangborn every year since 2015, and also additional meetings in Spain in 2017 and Dublin in 2018. However, in September 2018 SESRG had an even stronger presence at Eurosense as we not only held our annual meeting, but we also ran an E3S promotional stand, and collected questionnaire responses on food attitudes. If you haven’t already completed the questionnaire then please do so using the following link:

The most recent activities have been the first ever knowledge exchange webinar which was hosted by France in January 2019, led by Adriana Galinanes. This was a great success, with 33 members signing up to join the event. A review of the event will be posted on the E3S website soon, so do keep an eye out for that.

But enough about the past. I’d now like to hand over to Nicolas to share what he has in store for the group under his new leadership……..

What does the future hold?
Nicolas is highly dedicated to keeping the SESRG group moving forward. He plans to keep enhancing the SESRG communication platform so the network can continue to expand. This includes working to improve the actual recruitment process in order to effectively recruit new members. He will introduce a survey to update status of member of the group, and check for volunteers to substitute him as Social Media Manager (drop him an email at if you’re interested!). He aims for the group to continue organising events and activities so people can share their experiences (such as Post of the Month, Seminar, annual meetings, Knowledge Exchange Webinar…). As a result, it will provide more networking opportunities for all members of the SESRG. During the next assembly in Milan, he will held a meeting with SESRG members to discuss his vision of the future of the group, so again drop him an email if you’re interested in attending.


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Post of the month November 2018

Guest post

A glimpse of the 2018 Society of Sensory Professionals (SSP) Conference

Meetha Nesam James, Masters Student at Kansas State University, Manhattan, United States

26th-28th September 2018 – Cleveland, Ohio, United States

‘Rock your Sensory Advantage’- this was the tagline of SSP 2018 conference held in Cleveland, Ohio, United States from September 26th to 28th. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the conference aimed at inspiring sensory professionals and students, as leaders from the industry shared their expertise on how sensory could be used to drive innovative business results.

The conference kicked off with a welcome note by Dr. Jason Newlon, SSP Conference Committee Chairperson. This was followed by the SSP/ASTM Joint Workshop on the theme: ‘It’s a Small World, Leading Sensory and Consumer Research Cross-Culturally’. This session highlighted the how to’s of global research and the benefits of working globally. Dr. Kavitha Avula from ‘Therapists Beyond Borders’ gave an amazing talk on understanding people from inside out and not from outside in. She insisted that understanding cultural sensitivity of the target consumers, avoiding implicit bias and having a heart to listen rather than imposing your thoughts would be a great way to understand consumers from different cultures. Dr. Bob Baron, VP, Sensory Spectrum, spoke about the business case for taking sensory global. He mentioned that the changing environment in the global market is due to the increase in global trade, technology development, consolidation and centralization of brands. Daniela Garaiz, Sensights Consulting, mentioned that having a structured plan around the business objective and developing the study based on that would help conduct an international research study successfully. Following that, Janet McLean, Global Director of Sensory Consumer Guidance, Diageo, took us through the challenges one has to face when conducting research globally, especially the time zone difference, shipping costs, advertising etc. At the close of the workshop session, Cindy Malixi, Innovation Consultant and Facilitator, AHHA, gave her insights on working with global teams. Her idea of ‘Go have a beer’ with global teams to have better connections and to stay cool always, were some of the key takeaways from her talk.

The ‘Luncheon with Connectors Meet-and-Greet’ was one of the main events at the conference. Everyone enjoyed the conversations with their mentors, as they shared their professional experiences and their insights for future career prospects.

The opening keynote by Kevin Ryan was thought provoking as he spoke about ‘The Changing Face of CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods)’. He drew everyone’s attention towards the ten evolving cultural mindsets that tend to influence the CPG market. One of the mindsets he discussed was ‘Foodie 2.0’ where the consumers take ownership of what they choose to buy and what they eat. Ryan also recommended on how CPGs must react to these mindsets of consumers to stay relevant.

Debbie Peterson, President, Getting to Clarity, gave a fascinating talk on the topic “Increasing Confidence in Communication: From Frustrated to Focused”. She challenged everyone to “Step up, Speak up and Show up” and mentioned that avoiding limiting beliefs, catching it, challenging it and changing it into a positive belief about one’s self can help them achieve greater heights. Following that, Dr. Jason Newlon gave a talk on the journey of the first ten years of SSP. It was inspiring to know how the vision of a small group of the founding members took form into this successful big organization. The day ended with a cocktail reception for more networking and connections.

The second day of the conference started with scientific sessions on the theme-‘Context throw- down’. The speakers presented their research on the importance of context in consumer likings in different product categories. Experiencing the products in real life environment in contrast to the test facilities had impact on the consumer preference. After the talk, selected studies in diverse topics were presented as speed posters in no more than 5 minutes.

The students and other researchers had the chance of presenting their research in the poster sessions in the morning and afternoon. I presented my research on ‘Lexicon development and napping of Ryebread from Northern Europe and the United States’. There were posters on different sensory topics including context relevance, oral processing, cross-cultural product testing, etc. There was another Professional Development talk on how to overcome difficulties and to increase clarity and assertiveness in communication. The student luncheon that followed had a presentation from Chris Van Dongen about the three phases of a career in sensory.

The afternoon started with a scientific session on the topic “Individual Differences between Consumers”. Scientists presented their research on the variation in liking because of the personality traits, oral perception and sensitivity and sensory advantage of thermal tasters. Following that were two workshops at the same time on the topics of ‘Beyond Foods’ and ‘Best Practices for Storytelling with Data’. The participants attended either one of them based on their interests. The day ended with the award ceremony and the night was enjoyed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland with a grand Gala.

The final day of the conference began with two workshops simultaneously. One was on the theme of ‘Advancing Sensory Science by integrating Perceptual, Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology’. This workshop presented research on the role of context, fast and slow thinking and how to overcome the psychological sources of error. Another SSP-Sensometrics joint workshop was conducted on ‘Designing Consumer Relevant Testing’. A team of Sensory scientists and statisticians shared both the sides of a research study from a consumer-friendly perspective.  There was a session to meet and interact with the editor of the ‘Journal of Sensory Studies (JOSS)’ after the workshop. In the end, there was fireside chat where Dr. Jason Newlon and Lisa Ernst from Procter and Gamble shared their experiences on working with different product categories. Dr. Newlon closed the conference by calling everyone out to drive towards excellence with inspiration from all the sensory professionals.


Overall, the SSP Conference this year was packed with interactive scientific sessions and workshops. It also proved to be a great opportunity to connect with other sensory professionals and scientists. Personally, I got to meet and interact with Dr. Michael O’Mahony, Gail Vance Civille and Dr. Harry Lawless who are pioneer scientists in the field. Also, I had the pride to represent Kansas State University at SSP 2018 along with my team. I look forward to attending the conference again and to be more involved in the Society of Sensory Professionals.


CALL-TO-ACTION (CTA): I would like to invite you all to attend the next SSP conference in 2020 (Venue to be decided). There are a lot of volunteering opportunities available to get involved with SSP. Please contact me and I can get you plugged in the right team.

Written by Meetha Nesam James

Masters student at Kansas State University





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Post of the month October 2018


A review of the EuroSense 2018 Conference

Alessandra De Toffoli, PhD Student at the University of Florence, Italy
2st-5th September 2018 – Verona, Italy


Just some numbers: 727 participants (73% from Europe), 590 abstract submissions, 66 oral presentations, 4 workshops, 386 posters.

The theme of this edition was ‘A Sense of Taste’ that implied a great attention to individual differences in sensory perception, liking, preference, choice and behaviour. As taste is a multifaceted word with multiple meanings, topics covered the contribution of sensory science as a multidisciplinary perspective applied to specific issues of general interest (sensory for health, innovation, sustainability, eating out and individual differences), and input and contributions from other fields and disciplines to the methodological refinement of the sensory science (genetics, mind science, text analysis, new technologies, statistics and advanced instrumental analysis).

The conference was opened by Prof. Erminio Monteleone from University of Florence, followed by two keynote speakers, John Prescott – TasteMatters Research and Consulting and Caterina Dinnella – University of Florence. Both emphasised the important role of individual differences in taste perception, liking and food choices, underlighting that food choices depend on the interplay of food intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics with person-related dimensions that are biological, physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural.

Day two started with a keynote of Kees de Graaf from Wageningen University who spoke about the enormous societal pressure to reduce salt, sugar and fat levels in foods and underlined the essential contribution of sensory science to a healthier society. Agnès Giboreau from Institut Paul Bocuse Research Center presented meal habits from a global prospective showing discrepancy in eating out practices.

E3S Student and Early Stage Researcher Group annual meeting

In the afternoon, I participated with pleasure to the E3S Student & Early Stage Researcher (SESRG) annual meeting where I met students from different parts of Europe and I had the great opportunity to exchange opinions with other people working in sensory science.

During the coffee breaks I participated with other SESRG members at the E3S stand where we promoted the E3S group and its activities. We also administrated to delegates a food attitude questionnaire that was translated in 10 languages by E3S students. The aim was to adapt the questionnaire in several languages and to highlight the differences between cultures. The E3S Workshop “Lost in translation: issues in cross-cultural and multi-country studies” certainly gave us some precious suggestions!

Day three was a big day! It started with a keynote from Mari Sandell from Turku University who focus the attention on individual differences in sensory perception, underling that experiences are individual and unique, and we may taste, smell, hear, see and touch in different ways. After the presentation, I, together with other 6 colleagues, were awarded with the E3S and SISS Student Awards.

During the flash poster session, I presented my work on the influence of psychological traits on the acceptability of healthy foods that received the E3S Award. The purpose of the study was to investigate the role of psychological traits in liking, familiarity and choice for phenol-rich foods characterized at the same time by health benefits and warning sensations such as bitterness and astringency. Our results suggested that psychological traits associated with anxiety such as Food Neophobia, Sensitivity to Disgust and to Punishment may act as a barrier in the acceptability of phenol-rich foods. Particularly, differences may be associated with a hypersensitivity to the alarm sensations influenced by the psychological traits that could modulate sensory and hedonic responses making the alarm sensations been perceived as more intense and less acceptable.

The other keynote of the day, Jessica Aschemann-Witzel from Aarhus University, delivered a fascinating talk about how sensory consumer science can contribute to sustainable development of the food sector. She offered great deals to think about and she provocatively affirmed that it was more sustainable to fly from Verona to Aarhus than to walk. Why? Because the food you eat during the one-month walking has a worse environmental impact than the flight.

And last, but not least… we enjoyed the gala dinner in one of the most famous palaces of Verona with the belvedere that offered a fine view of the city.

Debra A. Zellner from Montclair State University and David Morizet from L’Oréal Research & Innovation opened the last day of the conference. Finally, Kees de Graaf and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman from Wageningen University presented the venue of EuroSense 2020. The conference will be held in Rotterdam!

The organisation of the conference was a great success and I came away from these days with a lot of new insights. I am grateful for the opportunity the organisers gave me to present my work and I look forward to attending the conference again in two years!

Written by: Alessandra De Toffoli
PhD student at Dept. GESAAF, University of Florence, Italy
Unifi SensoryLab Webpage
Facebook page: Sensory Lab Unifi


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Post of the month September 2018


A six-month research and training visit at the University of Arkansas

Laura Andreea Bolos, PhD student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden


This a short summary of my six-months research and training visit during the spring of 2018, at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Why I went. What I did. What I learned.

I am a fourth-year PhD student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Uppsala. My area of research is consumer behavior and food waste as part of the EU project SUSFOOD – Consumers in a sustainable food supply chain: understanding barriers and facilitators for acceptance of visually suboptimal foods (COSUS).

Thanks to Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr., a Distinguished Professor and Tyson Endowed Chair in Food Policy Economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas, my main supervisor, Carl-Johan Lagerkvist, Professor of Business Economics and Head of the Department of Economics at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and SLU fund for internationalization of doctoral studies, I was able to do a six-month research and training visit in the USA during the spring semester of 2018.

During my stay in the USA, together with Rodolfo Nayga and Carl-Johan Lagerkvist, we started to design and plan a study as part of my PhD project. The study is focusing on consumer food waste and is comprised of a survey that will be distributed to consumers across US. This research and study visit was a great opportunity for me, since it allowed me to study food waste in US, which otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

My visit at the University of Arkansas, enabled me to build a greater network with researchers from around the world, and start collaborative work. Moreover, many of the researchers working at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas are leading experts the field of experimental economics and consumer behavior research. Working with them helped me to further develop and increase my understanding of consumer behaviors and decision-making, specifically when it comes to food waste. My stay allowed me to broaden my knowledge of state-of-the-art economics concepts as well as my quantitative and analytical skills. It also helped me see how academic life at an American university looks like on a daily basis.

On a personal level, the research and training visit meant learning to adapt to a new environment and culture, seeing different ways of living, making new acquaintances and friends. I am very grateful for this experience.

About University of Arkansas: It was founded in 1871 in Fayetteville, on a hilltop overlooking the Ozark Mountains. The university is the state’s foremost partner and resource for education and economic development. The university’s enrollment is more than 27,000 and its students represent all 50 states and 120 countries.

About Swedish University of Agricultural Studies: It is a young university founded in 1977 and has its main campus in Uppsala, Sweden. It is a research-intensive university, where research and doctoral education stand for 70 percent of SLU’s turnover. Here sound basic research is combined with more practical studies to solve concrete problems.


Welcome to attend the EAAE seminar nr 168: Behavioural Perspectives in Agricultural Economics and Management, February 6-7, 2019 at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Ultuna Campus, Uppsala, Sweden

You can find more information about:

Me on campus at University of Arkansas

Picture by Diana Danforth.

Written by: Laura Andreea Bolos (PhD student at SLU, Uppsala, Sweden)





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Post of the month August 2018


A review of the 2018 IFST Sensory Science Group Conference

Marit Nijman, PhD Student at The University of Nottingham
7th June 2018 – University College Birmingham, United Kingdom

This year’s IFST SSG conference was titled ‘Health is Wealth’, exploring the link between sensory research and health. The 2018 IFST Sensory Science Group Conference was hosted by University College Birmingham and attended by students, academics, and industry researchers.

The day started with a welcome from the chair of the IFST Sensory Science group Stephanie Mitchell, followed by the first talk of the day by Dr Martin Kern from SAM Sensory and Marketing International who explained how consumers conceptualise Wellbeing in relation to food and drinks across the world. Not surprisingly, a large-scale survey conducted in 14 countries revealed very interesting cross-cultural differences in how consumers defined wellbeing.

Professor Martin Yeomans, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex taught us about the ‘new Sensory Specific Satiety’ which he calls Hedonic Sensory Contrast, and which suggests that liking is affected by degree of hedonic contrast between food items. Generally people will eat more of products with a high hedonic palatability than products with low liking scores. Interestingly enough though, contrasting between an unpleasant and pleasant tasting foods will have a bigger effect on liking and food intake than when participants are only exposed to pleasant or only unpleasant tasting foods.

Lisa Dreyfuss from Biofortis presented a method to support wellbeing claims on packaging using a questionnaire based on an extensive literature review. Since well-being can be an elusive concept and covers physical, intellectual, psychological/emotional, social, spiritual, occupational and environmental dimensions, Biofortis developed the questionnaire as a tool to measure all these aspects and help support specific well-being related claims for consumer products.

A novel element to the conference was the Student Flash Poster Presentation session, where six students had the opportunity to present their work to the audience. This allowed me and four other students to give a 10 minute talk in addition to having our research displayed in the poster area.

My work focuses on measuring the effect of context on consumers’ emotional responses to beer products. That might not seem like a topic that relates to health, but if my findings allow improvement of sensory consumer research methods, that would support the food industry in the development of products that are healthier, but still well-liked. I found different clusters of consumers in my experimental data that had varying product preferences and that also differed in how sensitive they were to context. Although some consumers are very sensitive to context and significantly change their preference depending on whether they taste beer samples in a bar or a sensory laboratory, you can improve their results in the lab by asking them to imagine being in a bar. That means that for this group of people you can improve external validity in a simple way while still testing products in a controlled setting.

Leonardi Louis from Cardiff Metropolitan University presented some very interesting research on the effects of ingredients on the sensory characteristics and consumer preferences of gluten free-bread. A highly relevant topic since more and more consumers choose to avoid gluten in their diet. His work will hopefully contribute to tastier gluten free bread in the future.

A high intake of sodium is related to health problems and therefore Katherine Hurst from the University of Nottingham is studying sodium release from crisps during food oral processing. In her 10-minute presentation she described the methods she used to study the release of sodium in the mouth using different commercial crisp products. The excellent work Katherine is doing in this area will provide strategies for salt reduction in food products.

Lucy Turner from the University of Reading held a passionate talk about the unexpectedly large variation in flavours of different varieties of Apium graveolens, better known as celery. Her PhD project aims to relate volatile analysis to the odour perception of this healthy green.

Imogen Ramsey from the University of Nottingham aims to improve the sensory characteristics of low alcohol beer. She did an excellent job presenting her research on the influence of ethanol on drivers of liking in beer and managed to relate her findings to that of other speakers. She was rewarded with the Student Flash poster prize which included a one-year membership to the IFST as well a hundred pounds!

During the lunch break the students presented their posters in the poster area. Beyond the work that was presented in the flash poster competition, there were posters on a range of different sensory topics ranging from the effects of rating scale length on sample discrimination to consumer acceptability of bitterness in Brussel sprouts.

After the lunch break it was time for a fascinating talk by Professor Carl Philpott from the Rhinology & ENT research group at Norwich medical school and James Paget University hospital. He gave us an insight to what it is like to live with olfactory disorders and opened our eyes to the many implications a reduced sense of smell can have on a sufferer’s life and health.

Dr Sarah Santos-Murphy, Mark Erwins and Mandy Lloyd from University College Birmingham treated us to an interactive workshop on how the microstructure of ice cream impacts our perception and liking. A second workshop was hosted by Deiniol Pritchard from The Fat Duck Group, who challenged our creativity and gave us new ways of thinking about taste, flavour and texture combinations by developing our own salad.

The final talk of the day was delivered by Felix Kormelink from Mars Global R&D. He spoke about the ways Mars as a food producer tries to facilitate healthy eating for its consumers.

All in all the programme of this year’s IFST SSG conference was packed with engaging activities and informative talks. Thanks to the excellent organisation the conference was a great success. I came away from the day with a lot of new insights and I am grateful for the opportunity the organisers gave me to present my work. I look forward to attending the conference again next year!



Written by Marit Nijman

Sensory Science PhD student

University of Nottingham

School of Biosciences

Division of Food Science

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A review of the 7th Annual E3S symposium:

“A taste of Culture: Understanding the Global Consumer and Sensory Perception.”

8-9th May, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Dublin, Ireland

Kim Millar, PhD fellow, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dept. of Food Sciences and Environmental Health, Ireland

On May 8-9th, speakers from food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics gathered at Teagasc Food Research Centre in Dublin to bring together their research and insights into the expanding world of sensory science. Hosted by the Sensory Food Network Ireland, this was the first international sensory science event held in Ireland, and brought together sensory scientists from over 15 different countries.

Dr. Sinéad McCarthy and Dr. Eimear Gallagher hosted the 7th European Sensory Science Society Annual Symposium on behalf of the Sensory Food Network Ireland.

The general assembly for E3S members kicked off the events, followed by meetings of the individual working groups associated with E3S. I was delighted to be invited along to the student working group led by Martha Skinner, the UK representative of the E3S student organisation along with some of the other student representatives from Italy, Ireland and Spain. This was a great opportunity to meet with other students working in sensory science and find out more about the E3S student group. The pre-symposium gala dinner took place in the Crowne Plaza hotel where guests where treated to a taste of Irish culture through food, music and dance to get all the sense activated.

The symposium was opened by Dr. Eimear Gallagher of Sensory Food Network Ireland

Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc opened the symposium, commenting on the substantial progress made by the field of sensory science in developing new methods and advancing our understanding of consumer responses and behaviours. This set the stage for Dr. Ciarán Forde, the first speaker of the day, who joined us from the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences. Ciarán’s talk, “Chews Wisely: understanding the impact of sensory properties on eating behaviours and energy intake” provided fascinating insight into the effects of sensory perceptions on calorie selection and eating behaviours and how that might influence energy intake and body composition. Ciarán’s ground-breaking research in their customised ‘Sensory and Ingestive behaviour lab’ really demonstrates the potential of personalised nutrition in combatting nutrition-related chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

After the tea-break, the students took centre stage in a dedicated session to present their research. I was delighted to take part in this session and present my research on the use of yellow-pea flour in bread. As part of my PhD, I am looking at increasing protein in bread using pulse flours, with a focus on how these flours effect the sensory profile of the bread. This involves every aspect of bread making from dough development and loaf volume, to the flavours produced. I was thrilled to be given the student award for best presenter, particularly given the high standard of all the presenters which included Célia Rocha, Emma Regan, Irene Chong, Laura Milner and Rachel Kelly.

Kim Millar receiving the award for best student presenter, presented by Dr. Nikos Pagidas of Kerry Europe.

Kim Millar, of Dublin Institute of Technology, with her award for best student presenter

The final session of the day “Sensory Science: Beyond Food” took us right out of our comfort zone as far as outer space. The speakers included Dr. Liz Sheehan from SRL Pharma who gave an overview of the role of sensory science in developing palatable medication, and Céline Marque who discussed her role as Principal Sensory Scientist for cosmetics company Oriflame. The session was completed with the final speaker of the day, Dr. Tracey Larkin of University of Limerick. Tracey is the principal investigator for the research group Food@LIT, and her presentation took us through the significant role the group has played in the Eden ISS (International Space Station) project. This project has been developing cultivation technologies to be used on board the international space station and in future space exploration, for provision of safe and fresh food to crew members.

The theme of the symposium “Understanding the global consumer and sensory perception” was carried through all the speakers throughout the day. The importance of understating global markets, cultural nuances and social behaviours was highlighted during each session, and it was clear to see how these will shape future foods as well as global nutrition. If you are a student in the area of sensory science, I recommend getting on to the E3S student group page and have a look around. We are going to be responsible for implementing many of these new developments and continuing to advance the area, so we might as well get to know each other.


Written by PhD fellow Kim Millar, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

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Review of the International and Interdisciplinary PhD Course:

“Food, Health and Philosophy in East and West”

April 2018 in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, China

Mette Duerlund, PhD Fellow, Aarhus University, Denmark. Science team: Food Quality Perception & Society

I have just returned home to Denmark from attending the PhD course: “Food, Health and Philosophy in East and West”. The course took place in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou in South China, and lasted for two weeks. It runs every year in spring and has been offered since 2007 with great success. Participants come from all over the world and in this year’s course, we were PhD students from Denmark, China, Brazil, France, and The Netherlands.

Food and Health views are different across the world. Attending the course “Food, Health and Philosophy in East and West” has been a tremendously insightful and eventful experience. Throughout the course, I have practised a lot of reflection and thinking about Eastern culture and how it is both very different from Western culture and similar in other aspects. I have definitely come to a better understanding of Chinese people and the process of internalising and integrating all my impressions will continue for a long time. Becoming a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), is a long learning process and this course has particularly helped me in cross-cultural reflections as well as to look at my research field and surroundings with perspectives from both natural, social, and human sciences. The course is perfect in illustrating how natural, social, and human sciences all contribute to the creation of new knowledge.

The course offers a combination of academic lectures and field trips to universities, food markets, hospitals, and religious sites. All to augment the learning process. The course includes a huge scope of topics and is very intense, but needs to be to cover such diverse outcomes. Some of the visits and lectures that stood out for me were:

  • Visiting Hong Kong University
  • Talking to Buddhist monks about health views
  • Experiencing wet food markets
  • Visiting Sun Yat-Sen University
  • Visiting Genomics Institute
  • Lectures and discussions with pastors
  • Visiting Biostime – Health & Happiness company
  • Eating at various interesting Chinese restaurants
  • So much more

It truly is an interdisciplinary learning course and brings forward cross-cultural impressions and reflections. The course makes you aware of the potentials and limitations of modern science and its role in food and health globalization. The course is in general very open-minded and offers fruitful crosstalk across academic fields. It can really support researches from the health area to see their own research and topic from a greater methodological perspective.

The professors and course organizers are extremely professional and experienced. One can really see the relationship building and understand the importance of networking and how cross-cultural research collaboration can work in a successful manner.

The course is important to everyone who is interested in collaboration with and understanding of cultural differences and potential barriers for research collaboration. It teaches us to think broader than just natural science and perhaps challenge the way we see things from a Western point of view.

I can highly recommend the course to all who will be conducting cross-cultural research and want to bring in a greater interdisciplinary understanding of different food and health views in East and West. It is a unique PhD course and the whole experience exceeded my expectations with lots of scientific and personal learnings.

For more information about the PhD course:


Written by PhD fellow Mette Duerlund, Aarhus University, Denmark




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Glace Review on Measures of Emotional State: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Nicolas Seince, Master student at Sanofi (Compiègne, France)

Currently, I am doing my Master internship at Sanofi which is a French multinational pharmaceutical company. It develops several products such as pills and creams. I am currently working on a project to establish a sensory laboratory to help the development of new products. I have found that one of the main goals of sensory and hedonic tests is to evaluate user experience which is mainly influenced by the emotional states of panelists. I decided from this evidence to identify measures of emotional state which can be applied during sensory and hedonic tests. The goal of this review is to develop measurements of emotional states which help to precisely evaluate panelists’ experiences during testing sessions.

In the literature, several parameters are reported which can be used to measure emotional state and which can be defined as a combination of multiple dimensions such as arousal, valence, and approach/avoidance. In sensory evaluation, self-report measure is mainly used to measure the emotional state. It consists of an evaluation by verbalisation and/or a scale. However, when using this method, generally studies omit to take into account modulation by memory, expectation, attention and other psychological factors. Thus, the results obtained with a self-report measure are imprecise and therefore, difficult to repeat. Furthermore, this method can be only used if individuals are able and/or not aware of their own emotional state and can’t report it. This task can be difficult, especially for children. In order to solve these problems further parameters from other fields can be included in sensory testing sessions.

In physiology, autonomic nervous system measures are used to estimate emotional state dimensions separately. This can be done by measuring the activation of the autonomic nervous system by using a sensor. The activity is modulated by an emotional process but also other processes. The first physiological parameter is the pupil size (Figure 1). Changes of the size are indicating emotional arousal of participants. This approach has already been adapted during sensory testing for example during concentrated fruit syrup, stewed fruit and spread tasting sessions (Lemercier, 2014). Once the eye-tracker was calibrated the tasting session started. Participants stared at the screen during the whole session and pupil size was measured. The second parameter is startle reflex measurement. But, sensors are placed on participants’ faces, which can induce a source of stress and shift their perception. This problem is rediscovered in another physiological parameter which is neural oscillation. It can localize brain circuit of emotional state, which is related to approach and avoidance for example disgust. Physiological parameters are mainly unconscious processes so they are powerful objective measures of emotional state. To date, it appears that only one parameter can be used during sensory testing, namely the pupil size.

Behavioral studies are based on individuals’ capability to communicate emotional state. We can infer the emotional state of another person by using vocal (amplitude, pitch), facial, and body cues. The most popular is the facial expression which can estimate valence of emotional state (Russell, 1994). This technique has been used several times during sensory testing with adults and new-born (Rostein et al. 2015). The whole body parameter can be used if participants can move freely in the environment. It would be hard to apply this measurement when doing sensory testing in booth where movement is limited. The last parameter and the least known is voice recording. It has been shown that some vocal characteristics can inferred on the arousal of the emotional state (Figure 2). This measure has never been used during sensory testing with healthy participant but it can be measured easily. In fact, vocal characteristics can be measured with a simple microphone and let participants move during sensory testing while pupil size needs a specific tool (eye-tracker) and doesn’t allow participant to move freely their head.

In conclusion, there is something else apart from the traditional sensory science out there. In fact, neuroscientific tools are complementary to classical sensory methods. They allow to bring objective powerful parameters which can be used during sensory testing to evaluate objectively user experience, for example by recording voices, pupil size, or facial expression. But, an important remaining question arises, do these different measures converge?

For more detailed information you can read the following article:

Mauss IB, Robinson MD. Measures of emotion: A review. Cognition & emotion. 2009;23(2):209-237


Johnstone T & Scherer KR. Vocal communication of emotion. In: Lewis, M.; Haviland-Jones, JM., editors. Handbook of emotions. New York: Guilford Press. 2000:220-235.

Lemercier A. Développement de la pupillométrie pour la mesure objective des émotions dans le contexte de la consommation alimentaire. Psychologie. Université Paris 8. 2014. Français. <tel-01181133>

Noel C & Dando R. The effect of emotional state on taste perception. Appetite. 2015. 95:89-95.

Rotstein M, Stolar O, Uliel S, et al. Facial expression in response to smell and taste stimuli in small and appropriate for gestational age newborns. J Child Neurol. 2015. 30(11):1466-1471

Russell JA. Is there universal recognition of emotion from facial expressions? A review of the crosscultural studies. Psychological Bulletin. 1994.115(1):102–141. [PubMed: 8202574]

You can also contact me by e-mail.


Written By : Nicolas Seince

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