Cornell Sensory Testing Facility
Department of Food Science
New York State College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
While the primary mission of the sensory evaluation facility in the Department of Food Science is to support the research of members of the Department, their students and their collaborators, the facility also provides scientific and technical support to food-related and consumer products industries. To this end, the sensory evaluation facilities are available to industrial clients.
The following general types of sensory evaluation tests can be conducted. Others can be conducted to meet more specific needs of the client.
Simple difference tests, including discrimination procedures
- Terminology development for sensory attributes
- Quantitative descriptive comparisons by trained panelists
- Consumer acceptability testing, including diagnostics (i.e., reasons for liking, disliking, etc.)
- Focus group interviews
- Statistical analyses of test results and presentation graphics are available.
The facility is well-suited to controlled sensory evaluations of foods and consumer acceptability studies. There are eight individual tasting booths connected by pass-through windows to an adjoining test kitchen. The facility is temperature controlled and is lit by ASTM-calibrated lighting. A conference room is adjacent to the test booths and can be used for panel training and qualitative interviews. The facility includes adjoining laboratory space for sample preparation. The facility is located in Stocking Hall which also contains a pilot plant and food analysis labs.
More detailed information on the facility can be found on the Facilites page.
The staff includes one supervising faculty member (Harry Lawless, Ph.D.) and one full-time sensory professional (Kathy Chapman). Post-doctoral associates, graduate students and student interns are often part of the program. Dr. Lawless is a psychologist with more than 15 years of experience in sensory evaluation and consumer testing. He is a trained focus group moderator. Ms. Chapman has been managing various sensory programs for the last ten years. Additional temporary staff may be added depending on project needs.
The Sensory Group hosts short courses in the summer geared towards the sensory professional working in food-related or consumer products industries. Individuals working in academia and government are also welcome to attend. Courses offered in the past have included:
- Applied Sensory Evaluation Workshop (2 days)
- Advanced Sensory Evaluation Workshop (2 days), and
- Applied Statistics Workshop (1 day)
A text version of the 2008 Workshop brochure is published here.If you would like to set up a panel, or have any questions or need for more information, contact Kathy Chapman or Harry Lawless.