Feedback calibration: a training method for descriptive panels
Descriptive analysis is one of the most powerful tools available to sensory scientists. However, regardless of the approach being used to analyze the sensory attributes of products, descriptive panels require significant training before the panel members, individually, and the panels collectively, become a reliable sensory instrument. There is great panel-to-panel variability and the training style of panel leaders can have a great influence on results. This research proposes the use of immediate feedback with calibration standards (feedback calibration) as a method to improve the training process and to provide anchors which permit comparison between panels.
An experienced determination panel performed descriptive profiling of 20 red wines. Their results were used to establish the attributes and targets for the second phase of the research. Sixteen inexperienced panellists were recruited and given 20 hours of common training over 10 days. They were then divided into two panels, control and experimental, composed of 5 women and 3 men each. The control panel was trained using conventional debriefing at the end of each session. The experimental panel only received immediate computerized feedback in the booths during evaluation. Both panels saw the same 10 wines and used the same scales and attributes. The research continued daily over a three-week period.
Extensive statistical analysis indicated that both the experimental and control panels were able to reproduce the results obtained by the determination panel. Panellist and panel accuracy and precision were obtained by measuring the difference from the target values. Both panels demonstrated similar learning curves. The conclusion from this preliminary work is that Feedback Calibration can provide unbiased and effective training for panellists, regardless of the style, skill or experience level of the trainer. Further research will be conducted to determine if the combination of both techniques would result in faster or more accurate descriptive panel training.
Findlay, C.J., Castura, J.C., & Lesschaeve, I. (2003). Feedback calibration: a training method for descriptive panels. In: 5th Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium. July 20-24. Boston, MA, USA.