Sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) for a group of 180 naïve consumers was related to their perception of 16 commercially available vanilla custard desserts. Rated intensities of taste and texture attributes varied moderately and inconsistently with PROP sensitivity. In contrast, discriminative ability increased with PROP sensitivity resulting in higher numbers of significant differences between pairs of custards. In terms of signal/noise theory, the results indicate that PROP sensitivity enhances the separation of the response signals but does not reduce their noise. The naïve consumers were also compared with highly trained panelists to test whether effects of PROP sensitivity resemble the effects of experience and training. Naïve consumers and trained panelists responded similarly with respect to taste and texture sensations such as creaminess and thickness, but were clearly different with respect to others such as heterogeneity and fattiness. Trained panelists demonstrated even stronger discriminative abilities than consumers with high PROP sensitivities for some attributes but weaker abilities for others. A practical implication of these findings is that selection criteria for participation in sensory panels should include PROP sensitivity, if the panel is aimed at maximum discriminative performance.
- taster status