Suspending continual feedback and its effect on panel performance
Descriptive analysis is the most refined method for determining sensory information about the shelf life of products, the manufacturing processes used by competitors, and the attributes that drive consumer preference. The quality of the sensory profile depends largely on the extent to which the sensory panel – the analytical instrument of descriptive analysis – is trained. Calibrating descriptive sensory panels reduces unwanted variability. Feedback Calibration is an effective method for calibrating descriptive sensory panels. The Feedback Calibration method calibrates panellists by providing immediate feedback during the normal flow of a computerized ballot.
A sensory profile of 20 red wines produced by an experienced determination panel was used to establish attributes and targets for the second phase of the research. Sixteen inexperienced panellists were recruited and provided 20 hours of common training over 10 days. Panellists 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 received immediate computerized feedback in the booths during evaluation. Both panels saw the same 10 wines, and used the same scales and attributes. Ten additional training sessions were conducted over a three-week period. On the days following the 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th training sessions, the panels evaluated 5 unfamiliar wines in the absence of feedback.
The experimental design allowed assessment of the impact on panel performance caused by shifting from a training environment (in which feedback was provided) to a testing environment (in which no feedback was provided). Results provided insights into the relative strengths of the FC method versus conventional training from the perspective of discrimination, distance-from-target, agreement among panellists, and panel agreement with expected attribute values.
Findlay, C.J., Castura, J.C., & Lesschaeve, I. (2003). Suspending continual feedback and its effect on panel performance. In: 5th Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium. July 20-24. Boston, MA, USA.