Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Food Science and Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


Amy Lammert


As the food industry continues to grow and the marketplace becomes saturated with similar products, consumer researchers and sensory scientists are looking to dig deeper into the minds of consumers to reveal greater distinctions between products and ultimately deliver multi-dimensionally desirable products to consumers. Concurrently, rates of adult and childhood obesity have been increasing nationwide. Food companies are now facing a paradigm shift as health initiatives and consumers are beginning to demand healthier alternatives to commonly consumed food products. With this in mind, it has become imperative to identify product attributes that drive consumption so they can be replicated in the alternative nutrition products. Additionally, foods high in undesirable nutrients, such as sodium, which has a positive correlation with cardiovascular disease and stroke, should be investigated in an effort to reduce this food ingredient and work toward increasing the nation’s health.

Mozzarella cheese is the most consumed type of cheese in the U.S., and one serving provides 8% of your Daily Value for sodium. Considering the obesity epidemic and increasing prevalence of hypertension, there are opportunities to investigate sodium reduction in mozzarella cheese. Determining the attributes of cheese that drive consumption and the emotions that such products may elicit, can guide manufacturers in the production of a low sodium product that is accepted and preferred by the consumers. In order to do so, two phases of researcher were conducted.

Phase 1 was conducted to (1) determine the hedonic and texture attributes of different cheeses that affect the end emotional state of a panelist, and (2) determine if the initial emotions and hedonics could better represent end product liking than hedonics alone. Seven convenience string cheese varieties with varying sodium and fat contents were evaluated using the Image Measurement of Emotion and Texture (IMET) method. Seven emotions (excited, sociable, self-confident, fatigued, judgmental, raging, and sad) scaled from 1- “slightly” to 5-“extremely” (with 0 representing “not at all”) were used, with each emotion at each level of intensity anchored by self-selected images that subjects chose prior to testing. Using a check-all-that-apply (CATA) format, subjects reported his/her emotional state and perception of textural attributes at the beginning and at the end of consumption. Hedonic attribute questions were measured using a 9-point hedonic scale and presented to subjects at the beginning and at the end of consuming each product. Compusense® at-hand was used for data collection. The results indicated: (1) the effect of texture attributes on the end emotional response of consumers depends on the cheese sample and (2) the hedonic principal components were sufficient to predict end overall liking.

Phase two was conducted to (1) determine if the emotion calibration step is effective in creating an emotional baseline between samples, (2) determine differences in product acceptance based on partial NaCl substitution, and (3) evaluate product preparation procedures during formulation of low sodium cheeses. Low moisture part skim mozzarella samples were produced with three different salt/salt substitutes (NaCl, KCl, and Salona™) at two levels (100% and 50%) with two antimicrobials (CytoGuard LA 20 and NovaGARD®). All samples were evaluated by consumers (N=54), which involved emotion, hedonic and texture measurements. Subjects were asked his/her emotional state (excited, sociable, self-confident, fatigued, judgmental, raging and sad; scaled from 1- “slightly” to 5-“extremely” (with a 0 –“not at all” option) in a CATA format before and after consuming each sample. Hedonic questions (9-point hedonic scale) and perception of texture were assessed during and at the end of consumption. An emotional calibration step was added between samples. All data was collected using Compusense® at-hand. The results indicated: (1) there was no significant variations in panelists’ reported initial emotions between samples, (2) the full sodium and 100% KCl samples were consistently liked more compared to the other samples, and (3) special considerations for antimicrobial application should be made during production and preparation of experimentally developed low sodium cheese.