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Effect of Reference Foods in Repeated Acceptability Tests: Testing Familiar and Novel Foods Using 2 Acceptability Scales



ABSTRACT:  Hedonic tests are routinely used to assess the acceptance of food products. However, these single tests may not be the best approach for predicting long-term use. The objectives of this study were, first, to check whether a difference from reference score is more sensitive to changes in hedonic scores, second, to assess whether the labeled affective scale (LAM) is more sensitive to differences than the 9-point scale, and third, to assess the effect of repeated exposure on the hedonic scores of neophilic and neophobic panelists for familiar and novel foods. Two groups of 41 panelists were tested with either the 9-point hedonic scale or LAM scale. Panelists received a food neophobia questionnaire and were subsequently classified to neophobic, neophilic, or neutral. Ten foods, including 5 novel and 5 familiar, were used. In each session, 5 to 6 foods were served twice/week for 4 wk. Serving frequency ranged between 1 and 8 times (1, 2, 4, 6, 8). Data analyses were performed 3 times, using either absolute acceptability scores or relative scores, that is, the difference between absolute scores and scores for either the reference (cracker, RELFAM) or a novel food (pickled-ginger, RELNOV) served in every session. The 3 analyses (absolute, RELFAM, and RELNOV) generated similar results with respect to the number of significant differences between foods. There was no major drift in acceptability scores with sessions. A significant food effect was obtained (P < 0.05) and a significant food × neophobia (P < 0.05) was noted for 2 novel foods, pickled ginger, and lychee, whereby neophobic panelists were less accepting of them. Both scales were equally sensitive with some advantages for LAM over the 9-point hedonic scale.