Color and Appearance

  • Harry T. Lawless
  • Hildegarde Heymann
Part of the Food science text series book series (FSTS)


In food products, especially meats, fruits, and vegetables, the consumer often assesses the initial quality of the product by its color and appearance. The appearance and color of these products are thus the primary indicators of perceived quality. The importance of color and appearance can also be demonstrated when we think of drinking milk from a Coca-Cola bottle, when we choose bananas in the grocery store (a green-yellow-black continuum that indicates ripeness), when a friend serves green-colored bread and beer on St Patrick’s day, and when someone serves us a watermelon with yellow flesh instead of the more usual red. In food processing and cooking, color serves as a cue for the doneness of foods and is correlated with changes in aroma and flavor. Simple examples include the browning of baked and fried foods. For other foods, color or lightness is important to identity and grading, such as the lightness of canned tuna fish. Scientific studies have also shown that the color of the product affects our perception of other attributes, such as aroma, taste, and flavor. For example, DuBose and Cardello et al. (1980) found that the number of correct identifications of fruit-flavored beverage flavors decreased significantly when the beverage was atypically colored, and that the number of correct identifications increased when the beverages was colored correctly. Christensen (1983) found that when sighted panelists scored the aroma intensity of appropriately and inappropriately colored cheese, soy analog bacon, margarine, raspberry-flavored gelatin, and orange drink, the perceived intensity of the appropriately colored product was higher than for the inappropriately colored product. Interestingly, the bacon analog was a notable exception.


Color Space Sensory Evaluation Unit Plane Just Noticeable Difference Color Blindness 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry T. Lawless
    • 1
  • Hildegarde Heymann
    • 2
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityUSA
  2. 2.University of MissouriUSA

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