What is the MEATING Panel and how was it initiated

The Meating Panel represents a result of MEATING project funded by the FARB Program – Funding of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna to the Basic Research (announcement 2012-2013. Duration: 24 months, period 2014-2016).
Il Progetto Meating

The research project aimed to identify the elements that can lead to the quality recognition of different meat products using both instrumental and sensory methods to be applied in an experimental plan named “one-day analysis”. The experimental plan included the application of physical instrumental methods (appearance and texture) of rapid acquisition (Electronic eye, Texture analyzer) and sensory evaluation (QDA® method) performed by a trained group of assessors (panel).

The products chosen as case studies for the MEATING project were: cooked pork ham belonging to the three main commercial categories allowed by law (Decree 21.09.05 Ministry of Productive Activities) for this product (cooked ham, selected cooked ham, and high-quality cooked ham); fermented dry salami obtained from meat of autochthon or local breed (Mora Romagnola) and beef steak (with different characteristics in terms of breed, age, and farming system).

The Meating Panel

The creation of a sensory panel (MEATING Panel) required numerous tasting sessions for each product evaluated, during which the different stages necessary for the development of the sensory profile of each product were carried out: recruitment of judges, selection of sensory attributes (brainstorming phase), training, calibration of tasters, and, finally, evaluation of samples and data processing by statistical methods.

The quantitative descriptive analysis QDA®

The quantitative descriptive analysis QDA® for the definition of the sensory profile (positive and negative characteristics) of meat products was carried out by the MEATING Panel composed of nine assessors, all with previous experience in sensory analysis of food and balanced in terms of gender. The brainstorming phase was carried out in a room with a round table, around which discussion took place between judges to select the main positive and negative descriptors (visual, olfactory, taste, and texture) to be used in subsequent training and product evaluation sessions. Judges were asked to consider different samples for each type of product tested and to identify all the sensory attributes to describe and discriminate them.
The panel members discussed the meaning of each selected attribute to obtain a vocabulary that was shared and understood by all judges. Once the sensory descriptors were selected and defined, the profile sheet with a specific type of scale to be used the related anchoring points were chosen and sample presentation and evaluation was defined.

Instrumental analysis

Simultaneously to the development of the sensory profile of the product, instrumental analysis using an electronic eye (IRIS, Alpha MOS, France), which is able to perform, in a very short time, analysis of the product’s appearance by acquisition of successively processed images, was performed.
For rapid instrumental determination of texture, samples were analyzed with a Texture Analyzer (TA-Hdi®, StableMicro Systems, UK) to obtain information that is able to characterize the structural properties of the different meat products examined. Each sample was subjected to the determination of the amount of liquid released after the application of a compressive force (expressible moisture), test of cutting resistance, and penetration test for determination of shear force and gel strength, respectively, and texture profile analysis (TPA) achieved by a double compression of sample.

Finally, in order to communicate the results of the MEATING project to consumers, acceptability affective tests were conducted on consumers recruited between the two headquarters of the DISTAL (Bologna and Cesena) who were asked to judge, during several tasting sessions, the three case study (cooked pork ham, beef steak, and dry salami).
The objectives were: study liking, attitude to consumption, influence of the information and emotional state related to tasting, and underline the importance of sensory properties as a parameter for defining the quality of meat products.

The MEATING Panel will be able to provide advice on:

Profilo sensoriale

Development of the sensory profile of new products (meat and non-meat); the positive attributes of the products will be used by the company as tools for marketing support and as the source of the sensory “newsworthiness” of a product (advertising, editorial). Any negative attributes or worse sensory performance than competing products may be used for sensory technological improvement.

Caratterizzazione qualitativa

Qualitative characterization of products by the application of rapid physical instrumental parameters for determining the appearance and texture.

Valutare la riconoscibilità

Acceptability affective tests carried out to assess the recognition of products on the market, the existence of differences between similar products and how they affect consumer tastes, choices, and liking. Communicate the quality and support the  disciplinary realization with the quality characteristics of the products.

Companies that have provided free samples and which have actively collaborated in the research activities of MEATING project are:

Negrini Salumi Sas
di Gianni Negrini

Coop Italia
(Casalecchio di Reno, BO)

Officine Gastronomiche Spadoni
(Brisighella, RA)

Clai S.c.a.
(Imola, BO)