Shelf-Life Studies and Sensory Evaluation of Enteral Foods

This chapter enumerates the shelf-life and sensory evaluation studies conducted on these enteral foods. Shelf-life is an important property of a food that interests everyone in the food chain — from manufacturer to consumer. Because shelf-life of a food product is associated with consumer safety and satisfaction, precisely evaluating the shelf-life of a medical food is important to optimize patients' safety, satisfaction, and clinical outcome. Information relating to shelf-life is also critical to the purchasing agent in both the retail and food service trade. Measuring the sensory properties and determining the importance of these properties are also important aspects of any new food development program including medical foods. Also, because sensory perception and food acceptance is strongly correlated, sensory evaluation can help predict the acceptance of the medical food by the patients. The taste, aroma, and texture mainly govern the acceptance or enjoyment of a food including medical food. This is particularly important when a patient receives the medical food orally. The question arises: what is the significance of taste, aroma, and texture of medical food when it is delivered via tube? The answer is that appropriate measurement and evaluation of sensory principles govern not only patients' food acceptance, but also predict stability and integrity of the food, and thereby establish the food safety. Studies have shown that physicochemical analysis of medical food alone does not provide sufficient data to allow prediction of either patient acceptance or product integrity (Thomas et al., 1981; Winger, 2000). Hence, sensory evaluation of medical food is a critical tool in the assessment of product stability and consumer acceptance, and thus should be considered as an integral part of a medical food stability program. Because changes in sensory attributes of a food are related to shelf-life of the food, the shelf-life and sensory evaluation studies conducted on the three medical foods developed in the present study are discussed here.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

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