Difference test assessments, also known as discrimination testing, can use a variety of methods to determine if there is a significant sensory difference between two products. It is usually conducted when a subtle change in a product is thought to exist of a different production treatment is being trialled, to find if it is sufficient to affect the sensory properties of a product.
Affinity Labs employs a team of highly qualified sensory scientists who each hold a diploma in Applied Sensory and Consumer Science from the University of California, Davis. They are skilled in all aspects of statistical analysis and experimental design and with with food and beverage producers to define objectives and design assessments to achieve a successful outcome.
A pool of more than sixty assessors is available for difference testing. The assessors are screened and qualified, and their performance monitored over time.
Our state-of-the-art sensory laboratory is equipped to ISO standards with individual sensory booths to ensure a suitable environment for assessments. Separate panel and meeting rooms allow for in-depth discussion of products with assessors. The laboratory uses data acquisition software for flexible set-up of tests and collection of data.
A sensory scientist will work with clients to select the best method for difference test assessment, with the products involved and test objectives taken into consideration. Methods based on Australian Standards are followed and involve blind assessment, with samples presented in random order with appropriate breaks and palate cleansers for assessors. Depending on the method selected, an appropriate number of assessors is used to give good statistical power.
It should be noted that difference test assessments are not intended to provide information about the nature of any differences found, nor information about consumer preference.
Difference testing helps producers understand their products better. It is particularly useful when developing a new product, updating or changing an existing product, or changing production processes.