Sensory analysis of foods

Flavor, mouth-feel, texture, appearance

Odor and taste impressions are decisive for consumer acceptance of a food product. We perform sensory tests on your food products and identify key odors and flavors and substances that cause off-odors and off-flavors. Our in-depth expertise and advanced analytical methods enable us to detect and identify these substances at a molecular level. The identification of these substances gives information about possible reaction pathways and sources of flavors/odors and off-flavors/off-odors. We determine whether off-flavors/off-odors arise from outside sources, from degradation processes, from external parameters during the manufacturing process, or during product storage. Our tests also investigate the possible transfer of substances that cause off-odors/off-flavors from the packaging material into the food or drink product. Using this knowledge we can develop customized strategies to avoid off-odors/off-flavors and to promote desired odors/flavors.

To improve your on-site quality control we offer rapid test methods that you can use for specific odors, flavors, off-odors/off-flavors, and their precursor molecules.

Our services in the field of food sensory

  • Human sensory evaluation of food odors and taste, and packaging odors
    Highly qualified sensory panel, quantitative descriptive analysis (QDA), aroma profile analysis (APA), triangle tests, hedonic evaluations
  • Isolation and purification of odorants
    Solvent assisted flavor evaporation (SAFE) and condensation/trapping techniques
  • Studies to identify off-odors
    Short and long-term storage tests, forced storage/sample treatment, simulation of the manufacturing process, precursor studies
  • Simulation of aromas and off-odors on the lab-scale
    Odor threshold determinatio
    n, recombination and emission experiments in specific matrices
  • Quantitative determination of odorants at trace levels
    e.g. via stable isotope dilution analysis (SIDA), diverse methods for quantification, on-line detection in the gas-phase
  • Development of concepts for optimizing desired aroma impressions and investigations into the causes of off-odors with development of avoidance strategies
Aromastoffanalyse des Atemgases
© Fraunhofer IVV
On-line breath gas analysis of aromas after food consumption
Expertenpanel bei der Sensorischen Analyse
© Fraunhofer IVV
A trained sensory panel evaluates the properties of different foods
Zweidimensionale Gaschromatographie-Olfaktometrie/Massenspektroskopie
© Fraunhofer IVV
Evaluation of the chromatogram of an olfactometric analysis of a foodstuff

Identification of off-odors and desirable aroma compounds

Identifying the underlying substances that are responsible for off-flavours is indispensable in order to develop suitable avoidance strategies. On the other hand, knowledge of the desirable flavours that impart a product with its special character and increase its acceptance amongst certain consumer groups is essential. We have extensive expertise in the identification of aroma compounds. We utilise state-of-the-art analytical methods to detect and identify aromas and off-flavors on a molecular basis. Knowledge of the specific compounds causing off-flavors is essential in order to draw conclusions to the formation pathways of both desirable and undesirable aroma compounds, thereby enabling off-flavours to be prevented or to promote the development of desirable aromas.

We have expertise in characterizing the transition of off-flavors from packaging materials into food and beverages, and in clarifying their formation pathways. We use this background knowledge to develop bespoke rapid methods for detecting aroma and off-flavor compounds and/or their precursor molecules for subsequent adaptation and validation in cooperation with our clients for in situ use in their commercial quality control processes. We also offer our customers the possibility to develop customised strategies for optimizing flavor development or avoiding off-flavor formation.

Determination of generation pathways of off-odors and off-flavors

Off-flavor investigations target their origins, for example, their potential occurrence from external interferences (e.g., from packaging materials or contaminated raw materials), from different formation processes (e.g., due to thermal, chemical or microbial processes), or through the degradation of constituent, desirable aromas (e.g., evaporation, adsorption or absorption on packaging materials, or due to thermal, chemical or microbial processes) that cause a shift in the flavor profile of a product. Losses of aroma compounds or changes in the flavor of a product during storage can also be monitored to ascertain their causes.

Sensory assessments of foods

Our chemo-analytical methods are typically complemented with sensory assessments that are performed with either a trained panel or naïve consumers, according to the specific requirements of a product evaluation.

Products and raw materials

We evaluate the aroma and flavor characteristics of diverse product groups and resources including (selected examples):

  • Milk and dairy products, vegetable fats and oils
  • Meat, fish and vegetable protein-based foods
  • Fruit, vegetables and associated products
  • Cereals, flour, bakery products
  • Drinking water, mineral water and beverages
  • Tea, coffee, cocoa
  • Beer, wine, soft drinks and spirits
  • Sweets and confectionary goods

Research – Sensory analysis of foods

We research the flavor of foods. We focus on all sensory properties – the odor, taste, mouth-feel, texture, and appearance. Our scientists study the chemical, physical, and structural-textural properties of foods and their effect on sensory perception.

A key aspect is the correlation of human perception using the latest analytical methods.

Factors that alter the flavor of a food along the production chain to final consumption are investigated. Here we look at the raw materials, contact materials, and all technological and microbial processes (e.g. cooking processes, fermentation). We characterize desired sensory product parameters and also undesired aspects and their causes.

Reference projects