Why are the favourite foods of some nothing special to others?

Sensory food science helps prevent food wastage and build a sustainable food system, says professor Mari Sandell.

What are your research topics?

I study food and experiences of food based on the human senses. By its nature, food is a multisensory stimulus, but we are all different and often experience the same food or meal in different ways. What’s yummy to some may be yucky or irrelevant to others.

At the same time, food is filled with exciting molecules, which also have an impact on its taste or smell. In addition to equipment used for chemical analysis, their identification requires sensory research. My research group is called Senses and Food.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

We eat and drink several times a day. Perceptible characteristics play a key role in people’s food-related experiences. If a product or raw material we have chosen is not to our liking due to sensory perception, that product may end up in the trash bin.

Already now, an unsustainable amount of food wastage and waste is generated globally. A sensory approach serves as a preventive tool in, for example, product development, food education or the development of a sustainable food system.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

At its best, food is a comprehensive boost for the day. We live in individual sensory worlds, and it is their link with food consumption behaviour that right now inspires me greatly.

Mari Sandell is the professor of sensory food science at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.

Watch Mari Sandell's inaugural lecture as a new professor on the 10th of September on YouTube.

Read about the other newly appointed professors here.