The aim of all descriptive techniques is to generate quantitative
data which describes the similarities and differences among a set of
products. Each method has a different approach; however the basic
framework of all the techniques is the same:
Descriptive techniques include Free Choice Profiling (FCP), the Spectrum™ method, Quantitative Descriptive Analysis™ (QDA),
Flavor Profile Method, Texture Profile Method, Flash Profiling and
generic descriptive analysis. Generic descriptive analysis generally
takes pieces from QDA
and Spectrum™ methods, but is modified to suit the goals of the project
and limitations of the product being tested. Of the methods mentioned
here, FCP and Flash Profiling involved the use
of untrained consumers rather than a trained panel (although a trained
panel can be used). This main point of differentiation makes these
techniques faster and cheaper to conduct as there is no training
The selection of panel members is very important to the quality of
the data obtained. Potential members need to be screened for their
ability to discriminate between similar samples, rate products for
intensity and identify tastes and aromas. Equally, or possibly more,
important than a panelists’ sensory acuity is their motivation. A
panelist who feels they are required to particiapte may not perform as
well as and equally skilled panelist who feels motivated to participate.
Panel training encompasses term generation, concept alignment and
panel testing phases. The amount of training required is dependent upon
the method used as well as the product(s) to be tested.3
A company with an in-house descriptive panel may spend several months
or more training a panel over a wide range of products, rather than
training the panel specifically for each product as needed.
1 Lawless, H. and H. Heymann (1998). Sensory Evaluation of Food: Principles and Practices. New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
2 Murray, J. M., C. M. Delahunty and I. A. Baxter (2001). Descriptive Sensory Analysis: Past, Present and Future. Food Research International, 34: 461-471.
3 Chambers, D. H., A.-M. A. Allison and E. I. Chambers (2004). Training Effects on Performance of Descriptive Panelists. Journal of Sensory Studies, 19: 486-499.
4 Stone, H. and Sidel, J.L. (2004). Sensory Evaluation Practices. Elsevier Academic Press. San Diego, CA, pp. 201-244.
5 Meilgaard MC, Civille GV, and Carr BT (2007). Sensory Evaluations Techniques, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL