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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