Sensory Evaluation in the Journal of Food Science – 1936 to the Present


It always is interesting to read the early literature of JFS and find many articles describing some aspect of sensory evaluation; either as the main focus, as supporting research on the chemical changes of a food under varying storage conditions, or the effects of a new processing method on consumer preference. To gain an appreciation for the role that sensory evaluation has played in the food and beverage industry is to read the 1st volume of Food Research, p. 287–95, where there is a manuscript by Sylvia Cover, entitled, “A new subjective method of testing tenderness in meat-the paired eating method”. This method is still used in sensory testing, currently referred to as the paired comparison. Throughout its life as Food Research and then as the Journal of Food Science, one could always find publications in which sensory evaluation was a major part of the research findings. It is also interesting to note that in this time period, Food Technology also published peer-reviewed research involving sensory evaluation. Authors, including this author (Stone and others 1974), used the latter publication as a means of disseminating research results to a wider audience, compared to JFS which had a smaller readership and took considerably longer to appear in print. As JFS switched from quarterly to bi-monthly, it became the journal of choice. In the 40's and 50's, research of fundamental importance to sensory evaluation appeared in the Journal; for example, Professors Ed Roessler, George Baker, and Maynard Amerine published a series of articles on statistical tables for difference tests, decision errors in testing and related topics. In the mid- 1950s and into the ‘60s, the Journal published research on subject selection (F. Miles Sawyer 1962), Texture Profile Analysis (Alina Szczesniak, Elaine Skinner and others 1962, 1963) and soldiers’ preferences (Frank Pilgrim, David Peryam and others 1955). In this time period Rose Marie Pangborn published the results of her research on flavor interrelationships in model systems in beverages demonstrating the importance of sensory information to product success in the marketplace. Other investigators, stimulated by this research, used JFS as a place to publish their research, enhancing the Journal's reputation in the field.

In the late ‘60s as the Sensory Evaluation division began its formation; it petitioned the publishers to make greater use of sensory scientists as reviewers to improve the quality of the research appearing in the journal. IFT accepted our proposal and it was a great step forward for those of us functioning as sensory scientists. In this same time period, more Universities offered course work in sensory evaluation and there was greater recognition of its role in the food and beverage industries. Ultimately this led to the current environment where sensory scientists have a designated place in a journal devoted to reporting research results about sensory evaluation and its applications. There also is a hard working staff of Associate Editors and several hundred scientists serving as reviewers. Continuing through the ‘60s through ‘90s, the number of submissions and number of articles with a sensory focus has grown significantly. In the first 2 decades of the 21st century, the use of sensory evaluation has continued to grow along with the publication of new methods (Flash Descriptive Analysis) along with more fundamental research on the use of electronic detection systems to minimize reliance on human behavior.

In this more recent “era” the Journal has had the advantage of having 3 Executive Editors, beginning with Owen Fennema followed by Daryl Lund and our current Editor in Chief, Allen Foegeding. Each has made singular contributions, moving the Journal from a 3-year backlog (yes, 3 years from submission through review, acceptance and publication!!) into the electronic age with a 3-month time line from submission to publication. As with other sections of the Journal, Sensory and Food Quality receives manuscripts from all over the world, accepting less than 30% of submissions, in an effort to build high standards and enhance the reputation of the Journal. Over the next 75 years, authors and readers can expect to experience an even faster pace to the publishing process, greater recognition of the value of the information and continued enhancement of the reputation of the Sensory and Food Quality section and the Journal itself.