Food Chemistry and Human Sensorics

The research of our group is dedicated to the flavour and off-flavour of food and is focused on answering questions like "Why does a food smell like as it does?". Wine flavour as the flavour of strawberries, elder flowers, apple juices or sausages are topics of recent research activities. Besides the flavour and off-flavour of food material, the odour and off-odour of other matrices (e.g. cardboard, paper, poly-olefins) are in the focus of the research activities.

To answer these questions the combination of two powerful techniques are used.

  • Instrumental techniques
  • Sensory evaluation

To identify and quantify odour active compounds, mainly gas chromatographic techniques with different detection systems (FID, ECD, NPD, FPD, MSD) after appropriate sample preparation methods are used. To identify the odour activity of volatile compounds, gas chromatography olfactometry (GC-sniffing) is applied.
Besides various conventional one-dimensional gas chromatographic systems, two state-of-the art two-dimensional GC-systems are operated at the institute (a) multidimensional GC-GC-MS (heart-cut technique) with the additional option for GC-olfactometry of the regions of interest, (b) comprehensive GC*GC-qMS. These very new techniques allow very sensitive and selective determination of flavour compounds.

For the sensory evaluation of foods a highly trained sensory test panel consisting of 14 panellists is used. The evaluation is performed in the sensory test lab under standardized conditions. Well-established techniques as well as new methods are applied for the sensory evaluation.

In addition to the use of sensory evaluation as an analytical technique in flavour chemistry, sensory evaluation training courses are held for students as well as for companies. General courses are offered by the group via TU Graz Life Long Learning (www.lifelonglearning.tugraz.at); courses for special topics and specific groups are held on request (contact: Barbara Siegmundbarbara.siegmund@tugraz.at).


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GC-olfactometry ("GC-Sniffing") Sensory evaluation of foods
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Multi-dimensional GC-MS with a sniffing port
for GC-olfactometry
Sensory evaluation of foods - training course