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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