Research activities and team
Their activity aims at developing and applying innovative and multidisciplinary methods for the investigation of food in order to understand and predict consumers’ choices by means of: i) the objective evaluation of products’ perceptible characteristics and of consumers’ responses; ii) the investigation of the perceptive and cognitive processes of the multisensory experience underlying consumer-product interaction and iii) the correlation of sensory and consumer data with instrumental food characterisation.
Beyond its fundamental relevance, the research activity supports the development of new products and production processes and the valorisation and preservation of typical products. These goals are in the more general frame of the development local and national productive potential and the improvement of diet quality by taking into account the requests of consumers who pay more and more attention to the quality of food and who look for food products with high quality standards, both in terms of health and pleasure.Skills
The group gets together researchers and technicians with different specific expertise in the field of sensory analysis (analytic methods with trained panels and consumer tests) and of innovative instrumental techniques for the investigation of food quality aspects related to sensory perception, such as the monitoring of flavour compound release or the assessment of physical-mechanical characteristics.
In the case of flavour release, the well established gas chromatographic methods are complemented by on line, high sensitivity analysis by direct injection mass spectrometric methods and, in particular, Proton Transfer Reaction – Mass Spectrometry (PTRMS). PTRMS is characterised by an extremely high sensitivity and time resolution and by the possibility to obtain quantitative data for several compounds simultaneously. This allows the non-destructive analysis of food samples and the monitoring of volatile compound emission real-time as, for instance, during food consumption (nose space).
The expertise in the fields of multisensory perception and of consumer science make it possible to investigate the cognitive and perceptual dynamics underlying individual responses and to better measure and understand the drivers of consumer choices.
The use of advanced chemometric and data-mining techniques is a characterising aspect of the activity of the research group.
Flavia Gasperi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eugenio Aprea (email@example.com)
Isabella Endrizzi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Franco Biasioli * (email@example.com)
Andrea Romano * (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Emanuela Betta (email@example.com)
A new sensory laboratory with a wide testing area equipped with: 22 individual booths and computerized data acquisition, one teaching room with 48 positions to learn the principal techniques of sensory evaluation, one room for teamwork activities and hedonic tests with consumers or psychological experiments, and a specifically equipped room for samples preparation.
The laboratory works with an internal panel of trained judges.
Near to this area, there is an analytical laboratory equipped with advanced innovative instruments for the measurement of volatile compounds: a gas-chromatograph with a head-space autosampler coupled to a mass spectrometer and two direct injection mass spectrometer for the rapid and high sensitivity monitoring of volatile compounds (one PTR-Quad_MS and one PTR-Time-of-flight-MS equipped with Switching Reagent Ion system and calibration unit). Recently, the laboratory has acquired a texture analyser equipped with acoustic detector to measure both mechanical and acoustical properties of food samples, and a visual analyser.
Main research projects
Sensory quality of apples
The project proposes a wide characterisation of apple cultivars based on sensory profiling performed by a trained panel combined to consumer tests, and on instrumental analysis of parameters related to flavour and texture, with the aim to identify the key sensory parameters of consumer appreciation and to validate a valuable tool for cultivar evaluation in breeding programs. In collaboration with the Volatile Compounds Platform and Genomics and the Crop Biology Department
The project aims at the investigation of the multisensory processes at the basis of consumer-product interaction to contribute to a better comprehension of the perceptive and cognitive mechanisms of individual responses to sensory stimuli. In collaboration with CIMeC (University of Trento, Center for Mind/Brain Sciences)
Quality aspects of the Trentingrana production chain
The Sensory Quality group supports the Trentingrana Consortium for optimizing the quality control system based on the evaluation of an expert panel and for developing instrumental analysis to control important parameters related to sensory aspects. In collaboration with the Volatile Compounds Platform and the Trentingrana Consortium
Characterization of volatile organic compounds profile of mono-varietal olive oils
The CNR IVALSA is interested in evaluating the characteristics of mono-varietal oils derived from its wide collection of cultivars of olive trees. For this purpose, it has commissioned to FEM the analysis of volatile organic compounds of importance to sensory quality. In collaboration with the Volatile Compounds Platform
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