A sensory lexicon for human description of the flavor, aroma, texture and appearance characteristics of dry dog food was developed using a consensus profile method. Twenty-one products, available in the U.S. market, were studied. A five-member highly trained descriptive sensory panel identified, defined and referenced more than 70 sensory attributes for this product category. The lexicon established included attributes common to most of the samples such as barnyard, brothy, brown, grain, soy, vitamin, off-flavors oxidized oil, cardboard and stale, and attributes appropriate for only a few products such as liver, fish, burnt, spice brown, garlic, celery, clove and smoky. The product category often showed a blended sensory profile and overall impact was evaluated to better discriminate among the products.
One of the most competitive and economically relevant industries of food processing is pet food production. Although there are physiological sensory differences among Canis familiaris and Homo sapiens, human sensory data can be useful for several purposes. This research provides a lexicon that can be used as a starting point to describe the appearance, texture, aroma and flavor characteristics of dry dog food products when such information is needed for quality control, shelf life, product development or claims substantiation. This information is useful to product developers, researchers and technologists in understanding these characteristics and using those attributes to improve dry dog food products.