A Sixth Sense for Sensory Analysis

“One of my main goals is to validate our methods, to ensure we are making positive changes to deliver a full sensory experience.” -Julie Drainville

As Edlong’s Senior Sensory Scientist, Julie Drainville’s job is to make sure our flavors are living up to expectations in taste, texture and function. In other words, she’s responsible for the detailed analysis that makes the intangible, tangible—helping us verify and demonstrate, with data, that our flavors meet formulation goals.

Fortunately for us, she’s been doing this for a long time, with a Double Major in Dietetics and Foods, Nutrition and Business from Purdue University. Julie has a Master of Science in Nutrition Education from Rosalind Franklin and completed the UC Davis Sensory Certificate Program. She’s also an active member of the Society of Sensory Professionals. In short, few people have Julie’s credentials in sensory science.

At Edlong, Julie is using her expertise to create a trained, in-house panel of sensory professionals. Those individuals have to pass a special screening and participate in ongoing training sessions. You could say that they get quite a taste of what’s expected—even before they begin to taste. Each person on the team is trained to use specific scales that rate specific product attributes.

For example, for a recent sensory evaluation of Edlong’s Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream, a team of twelve trained panelists evaluated blind and randomized ice cream samples, both flavor and unflavored. Responses were entered into a document for analysis, to determine what significant differences existed between the samples in areas such as fatty mouthcoating, astringency, grittiness and waxiness. This process allowed us to empirically verify that the flavors being used in the application were having the desired impact—so we knew we were achieving the product goals.

The descriptive analysis provided by Julie and her team not only validates what has been done, but also provides insights to improve the ways we use our flavors to create winning products with our customers. By leading, leveraging and continuing to develop these capabilities within Edlong, Julie is helping us improve the way we evaluate our flavors, which in turn helps us provide even better service.

We’re delighted Julie has joined our team and we’re equally delighted with the advancements she’ll continue to help us make in our sensory capabilities

About the Author: Julie Drainville, Sensory Manager

Julie Drainville leads all sensory functions for Edlong globally, maintaining a trained employee panel for sensory testing, and also collaborating with applications scientists and customers to run testing to meet project needs. Julie has an extensive background in food science including over 15 years in the sensory field, a degree from Purdue University in Foods, Nutrition and Business/Dietetics, a Master of Science in Nutrition Education from Rosalind Franklin University, and completion of the UC Davis Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program.

Topics: Employee Spotlight
Resource Type: DairyConnect


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