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A Study of the Sensory Characteristics of\ud Food produced by the Sous Vide system: the measure of pleasure.

By Philip G. Creed


Consumers now demand higher quality in all aspects of life. This has had a particular effect on the food industry where the need for quality encompasses both \ud food safety and sensory characteristics. The sous vide process was developed to produce food on a large scale but with superior sensory qualities compared to the products of cook-chill and cook-freeze systems. This research aimed to determine whether the sous vide process could produce \ud meals with superior sensory properties as claimed. A literature survey indicated that craft-based assessors (chefs) claimed improved qualities in sous vide products which were not consistently supported by sensory analysts (scientists). Empirical studies were conducted to test whether sous vide and conventionally processed dishes could be distinguished by untrained assessors in a controlled laboratory environment and with assessors in an ecologically valid environment, a restaurant. In the laboratory, the sous vide meals were easily distinguishable from and less acceptable than the \ud conventionally produced dish. In the restaurant, few significant differences were found. Thus the ecologically valid environment of the restaurant where the many \ud extrinsic factors affect consumers' perceptions, effectively masked differences between the sous vide and conventionally prepared meals. To explore the reasons for this, a survey (n188) was conducted to determine \ud the relative importance of the intrinsic and extrinsic factors affecting the acceptability of foods when eating out. Results included a factor analysis which clearly showed components of 'customer care' had the greatest influence on the pleasure of eating out, followed by 'drink', and the absence of 'entertainment'. The factor which included 'enjoyment of food' was eleventh in the level of influence. Two scales were also devised to assess consumers' attitudes towards complaining about problems with meals and towards the technology used to produce them. This work has demonstrated that although consumers assume that the intrinsic qualities of food are the most important facator giving them pleasure when eating out, \ud many extrinsic factors will have a much greater influence on affecting their overall pleasure from the experience

Topics: fsd, psy
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