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College of Human Ecology

K-State sensory analysis team wins international competition

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

MANHATTAN -- People over age 50 want snack products that are nutritious, easy to chew, easy to eat on-the-go and easy to open.

That's the word from Kansas State University's Sensory Analysis team. They recently won an international award for the test they designed to see what sensory attributes are important to this age group. The team received first place in the Elaine Skinner Sensory Design competition, sponsored by Sensory Spectrum.

The competition challenged teams to put themselves in the place of sensory experts with an innovation team employed by a company looking to develop a snack for adults 50 years of age and older. Sensory analysis includes understanding products in terms of their appearance, aroma/fragrance, flavor, texture, feeling and sound.

"The mission was to design all the sensory tests necessary to recognize the needs of mature adults when it comes to snacking," said Ziad Matta, team coordinator and graduate student in human nutrition. They also were asked to give suggestions on possible products, providing a prototype of one product.

The K-State team came up with high-fiber pretzel-type rods and dip, presented in a cup with two compartments. The packaging was easy to open, easy to hold and suitable for sharing. It also came with a lid so the snack could be enjoyed at various times.

"People in the 50-65 age range are mostly professionals," Matta said. "A cup shape is easiest to grab on-the-go."

Matta said their simulated tests also showed adults over 50 want snacks with easy-to-read labels and stronger flavor and liked snacks with a retro feel, reminding them of their childhood.

The K-State team will share $5,000 in scholarships for winning the competition.

Sensory Spectrum is a management consulting firm located in New Jersey that applies sensory evaluation techniques to the understanding of consumer products.

Members of the K-State Sensory Analysis team include the following students:

From Manhattan: Alicia Jenkins, research assistant in human nutrition and graduate student in food science.

From out of state: Ellen Hill, graduate student in food science, Knoxville, Tenn.

From out of country: Ziad Matta, graduate student in human nutrition, Lebanon; Martin Talavera, graduate student in food science, Peru; Jee Lee, graduate student in human nutrition, South Korea; and Gaewalin Oupadissakoon, graduate student in human nutrition, Thailand.

This article was posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2005, and is filed under Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.