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New Guide for Sensory Testing Products with Children

A child’s reaction to taste, smell, appearance, and feel are key factors in product development. Sensory evaluators who test products with children can reference valuable guidelines for market research with ASTM E 2299, Standard Guide for Sensory Evaluation of Products By Children.

Developed by members of ASTM Subcommittee E18.05 on Sensory Applications—General, the new guide offers advice on the ethical, safe, and valid testing of children from birth to 15 years.
“This standard will give practioners a guideline for best practices when conducting product testing with children,” says Anne Goldman, Committee E18 chair. “Children are key decision makers across many product categories—food, fast food, pharmaceuticals, personal care, etc., and their opinions are an important element in the product development process. This standard helps to answer questions such as, ‘How young can I test? What scale should I use that children will understand? Why do I need an informed consent?’”

A task group of researchers from producers of breakfast cereals, peanut butter, beverages, confectionery, oral care, and cough/cold products teamed with independent labs and market-researchers to create the guide’s minimum standard requirements. Several members of Committee E18 on Sensory Evaluation of Materials and Products chaired the task group during the development of ASTM E 2299.

“The standard was initiated because there was very little documented evidence around children’s testing that practioners could reference,” says Goldman, the director of Consumer Guidance Research, ACCE, Mississauga, Ontario.

The guide covers:

• Specific application of sensory techniques when testing with children;
• Children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive levels of development, useful for developing tasks understandable to children;
• Recommendations of alternative modes for children to communicate their opinions or perceptions back to the researcher, such as appropriate scales and measures; and
• Minimum ethical standards required for testing with minors, focusing on their safety and protection as respondents, and the value of their input.

Technicians can also apply the considerations in Standard E 2299 to testing with seniors or developmentally challenged adults.

For further technical information, contact Goldman, Consumer Guidance Research, ACCE, Mississauga, Ontario (phone 905/828-0493 x. 244). Committee E18 meets April 20-22, 2004, in Salt Lake City, Utah. For meeting or membership details, contact Scott Orthey, manager, Technical Committee Operations, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9730). //

Copyright 2003, ASTM