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The responsibilities of a taste tester typically involve product testing and quality control to determine the attractiveness, taste, and smell of a particular food. Different procedures may be used, though in general it involves smelling and tasting a piece of food. Aesthetic elements of a dish or food may be considered, to ensure the color is appealing and appropriate for the flavor of a product. The taste tester is then responsible for providing useful and relevant information about the item, describing the taste and making recommendations to food scientists and managers based on his or her findings.
As the job title suggests, much of what a taste tester does is based on determining various qualities about the taste and smell of different foods. People working in this position are often food technicians with an educational background in the science of food production. The work of a taste tester often begins with an analysis of the aesthetic elements of a dish, including considerations of color and visual texture. If someone is testing a new candy that is supposed to taste like grape, for example, then the color and similar aspects should reinforce this flavor and make the food more cohesive.
Once a visual inspection is complete, then the taste tester is likely to consider other sensual elements of the food, especially smell and flavor. The scent should help a person recognize if it is going to be sweet or savory, and the tester can help determine how well a particular item does this. It is also important the smell is pleasing, and the taste needs to match the goals of a food. If the grape candy in the previous example does not taste like what most people think of as "grape," then the taste tester tries to provide information about what is wrong with it.
The information given by a taste tester is one of the most important elements of the job. This is used for analysis by other food scientists to determine how well the product meets its goals and consider additional action that may need to be taken in its development. It is important for a taste tester to provide both quantitative, numerical, data and qualitative, descriptive, information while performing a test. Additional testing may be performed on an item, and the tester might also be responsible for cleaning the testing area and ensuring that sanitary conditions are maintained.
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