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Abstract

Cheeses are available with different levels of fat and in different sizes and shapes (e.g., slices or cubes). This research investigated the effect of moving from a slice to a cube (constant 2-D surface area, increased volume) on textural evaluation of Cheddar cheese at three different fat levels using both descriptive sensory analysis and consumer testing. Thin slices (2 mm thickness) were generally judged to be less firm and hard than thicker (8–20 mm) samples. However, there was no difference because of sample thickness in texture terms evaluated after five chews. Consumer liking (flavor, texture and overall) was not altered by sample thickness and decreased with fat reduction. Consumers preferred large sized (8 and 14 mm) samples over the thin slices. The potential benefit from a less hard, thin slice did not result in improved preference. It can be concluded that sample size does not alter the overall sensory perception such that differences because of fat content are diminished.

Practical Applications

Sensory analysis requires a choice in sample volume and shape. Some foods, such as cheese, are sold in a range of sizes, varying from slices to cubes. This research was designed to determine if sample size altered the textural perception of Cheddar cheese. Descriptive analysis indicated that slices, the thinnest sample, were generally rated as less firm/hard, but there was no consistent sample size effect on terms evaluated after chewing. Consumer testing showed that differences in liking (flavor, texture and overall) were due to fat level alone and not altered by sample size.