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March/April 2011
UpDate

Selecting Sensory Assessors

The proper selection of assessors can have a direct effect on the outcome of any sensory or consumer test. A proposed new ASTM International standard will help users determine appropriate assessors, give general guidelines for ways to select and recruit respondents, and list the benefits and drawbacks in selecting certain assessors.

The proposed new standard, WK30847, Guide for Selection of Assessors for Sensory Training, is being developed by Subcommittee E18.04 on Fundamentals of Sensory, part of ASTM International Committee E18 on Sensory Evaluation.

“There are some questions in the field about several aspects of selecting assessors, and we are looking to address some of these and put them in one easy reference,” says Lisa Beck, president of Insight Factory LLC, and E18 membership secretary. “One example is when to use employee and nonemployee assessors, and any special considerations in using one or the other. Another example is the type of testing being conducted and in what ways that impacts the selection of assessors.”

Beck notes that WK30847 will be divided into three major areas:

  • Selection of assessors for consumer and affective testing,
  • Descriptive testing and
  • Difference testing.

“In our work, we have discovered that choosing the correct panelists may be the single most important part of the experimental design process for sensory research,” says Douglas Holt, senior manager, chemical and sensory science, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, and an E18 member. “Get that wrong and the most elegant questionnaires and the most fabulous facilities will not save you from making inaccurate sensory decisions.”

The proposed standard will contain a summary of information contained in other guides on selection assessors, but it will also touch on screening and recruiting methods and maintenance of assessor panels in addition to other practical considerations.

All interested parties are invited to contribute to the development of WK30847, particularly anyone who has case studies that they can share.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Lisa Beck, Insight Factory LLC, Houston, Texas

Phone: 908-735-4850

ASTM Staff: Scott Orthey

Phone: 610-832-9730