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J Dairy Sci. 2012 May;95(5):2336-46. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-5142.

Color of low-fat cheese influences flavor perception and consumer liking.

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  • 1Western Dairy Center, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322-8700, USA.


The present study examines the effect of color on low-fat cheese flavor perception and consumer acceptability. To understand the flavor preferences of the consumer population participating in the sensory testing, 4 brands of retail full-fat Cheddar cheeses labeled as mild, medium, or sharp were obtained. These cheeses were evaluated by a trained descriptive panel to generate a flavor profile for each cheese and then by consumer sensory panels. Overall and color liking were measured using a 9-point hedonic scale, and flavor, chewiness, level of sharpness measured using a 5-point just-about-right (JAR) scale (with 1 being not enough, 3 being just about right, and 5 being too much of the attribute). Subsequently, 9 low-fat Cheddar cheeses were manufactured using 3 levels of annatto (0, 7.34, and 22 g/100 kg) and 3 levels of titanium dioxide (0, 7.67, and 40 g/100 kg) using a randomized block design in duplicate. Cheeses were then evaluated by descriptive and consumer sensory panels. Each consumer testing consisted of 120 panelists who were mainly 18 to 35 yr of age (>90% of total populace) with >60% being frequent cheese consumers. Overall liking preference of the consumer group was for mild to medium cheese. Using the JAR scale, the medium cheeses were considered closest to JAR with a mean score of 3.0, compared with 2.4 for mild cheese and 3.6 for sharp cheese. Among low-fat cheeses, color was shown to be important with consumer liking being negatively influenced when the cheese appearance was too translucent (especially when normal levels of annatto were used) or too white. Matching the level of titanium dioxide with the annatto level gave the highest liking scores and flavor perception closest to JAR. This study established a significant effect of color on overall liking of low-fat versions of Cheddar cheese.

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