Implementing Sensory Analysis Principles in the Quality Control of PDO Products: A Critical Evaluation of a Real-World Case Study


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This study describes and analyses a practical implementation of basic sensory analysis principles in a productive context related to typical products. As a case study, we investigated the quality control (QC) system of Trentingrana cheese, a variety of the protected designation of origin Grana Padano. The production of Trentingrana cheese factories is supervised by their consortium through the assessment of sensory quality attributes by an expert panel; and, depending on the evaluation, the associated dairies receive price premiums or penalties. The procedures applied and the data collected over 8 years were evaluated, and critical points were identified. Ameliorations were suggested in accordance with good sensory practice and were verified over an additional 3-year period. The QC system has been improved by increasing the number of evaluated samples proportionally to the amount of the production of each dairy, by introducing a balanced experimental design, by monitoring experts' performance and by controlling the sample presentation to avoid systematic effects and psychological errors.

Practical Applications

With this work, we demonstrate the viability of applying the sensory approach to quality control (QC) within the food industry of typical products. The QC proposed here is a compromise between the practical constraints of implementing sensory testing procedures in an industrial context and the basic requirements of good sensory practice for collecting reliable data. Nevertheless, the implemented QC represents an example of an efficient strategy for protected designation of origin product valorization, fundamental for preserving both market position and consumer confidence and loyalty toward the product.