Texture is a sensory property

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Food Quality and Preference 13 (2002) 215–225 www.elsevier.com/locate/foodqual

Texture is a sensory property
Alina Surmacka Szczesniak*
22 Wilson Block, Mount Vernon, NY 10552-1113, USA Received 15 July 2000; received in revised form 3 February 2001; accepted 12 March 2001

Abstract Realizing that texture is a sensory property gives proper orientation to facets of texture research.Following the breakthrough in the 1960s and 1970s in surfacing the multi-parameter nature of texture and in defining the general principles of texture acceptability, the field has essentially reverted to commodity work. This paper reviews briefly the state of knowledge and points out specific research areas that could constitute new significant breakthroughs. These include defining the components of complextextural characteristics, developing an understanding of the perceptual interplay among texture parameters and between textural and other (e.g. visual clues, taste) modalities, exploring the breakdown pathways in the mouth for various food categories, and repeating earlier studies on consumer attitudes and preferences in the context of 21st century cultures and lifestyles. # 2002 Elsevier ScienceLtd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Texture; Parameters; Perception; Consumer acceptance; Research needs

1. Introduction Work on texture dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Bourne, 1982). It involved construction of simple testing instruments to be followed by biochemical analytical research and some rudimentary sensory evaluations. It was concerned primarily with theelimination of defects. Bread, meat and horticultural products of economic significance, fruits (such as apples and peaches) and vegetables (primarily corn and sweet peas) received the greatest attention. In the early days research on texture was commodity oriented with no or little interaction among product groups. As a result, there was much confusion even on the definition of texture since each group hadits own. Some equated texture with structure, others with tenderness, toughness, crispness, terms which were poorly defined and had different meaning to researchers dealing with different products. It was not until the late 1950s that texture began to be looked at as a subject in itself (the way flavor had been studied for some time) mainly owing to a group of forward thinking technical researchmanagers at the General Foods Corporation in the USA.
* Tel. +1-914-668-7365. E-mail address: alinasz@aol.com (A.S. Szczesniak).

Today, the field has some structure, some principles have been developed and — above all — texture is being looked at not so much as the absence of defects, but as a positive quality attribute denoting freshness of produce, excellence of food preparation and contributingto the enjoyment of eating.

2. Definition of texture A general agreement has been reached on the definition of texture which evolved from the efforts of a number of researchers. It states that ‘‘texture is the sensory and functional manifestation of the structural, mechanical and surface properties of foods detected through the senses of vision, hearing, touch and kinesthetics’’. This definitionconveys important concepts such as: 1. texture is a sensory property and, thus, only a human being (or an animal in the case of animal food) can perceive and describe it. The so-called texture testing instruments can detect and quantify only certain physical parameters which then must be interpreted in terms of sensory perception; 2. it is a multi-parameter attribute, not just tenderness orchewiness, but a gamut of characteristics;

0950-3293/02/$ - see front matter # 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S0950-3293(01)00039-8


A.S. Szczesniak / Food Quality and Preference 13 (2002) 215–225

3. it derives from the structure of the food (molecular, microscopic or macroscopic); and 4. it is detected by several senses, the most important ones being the senses of...
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