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A pilot study on sensory evaluation of commercial yogurt products by Italian students from middle school
1, 2 , 2 , * 1
1  Department of the Science of Agriculture, Food, Natural Resources and Engineering, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
2  Comprehensive Institute “Foscolo-Gabelli”, Foggia, Italy
Academic Editor: Cristina A. Fente


Consumer interest in functional foods, in particular in yogurt, is growing significantly, due also to health messages and promotions. An interesting sector for market demands, as well as to design and develop new functional foods, is those represented by teenagers.

This article reports a pilot experiment conducted by a group of students from an Italian middle school, as a part of a project on the STEM teaching (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to improve and/or increase students' knowledge about functional foods.

Eighteen students from the last year of a middle school of Foggia, after a preliminary training performed by their teachers in collaboration with researchers of DAFNE Department, evaluated commercial yogurts from 20 different labels in terms of acidity, sweetness, odour, texture, taste, and overall acceptability through a 5-point scale. Data were analyzed through non-parametric test, box-whisker plots, and Principal Component Analysis.

Statistic pointed out that for teenagers the overall acceptability was directly related to sweetness (0.695), odour (0.587), and taste (0.861), and indirectly related to acidity (-0.517); in addition, non-parametric test shows a high variability inside the dataset, with a not-normal distribution of sensory scores.

In conclusion, this research offers an important contribution to elucidate the point of view of adolescents, providing a significant contribution to studies on consumer knowledge in the functional food market.

Furthermore, it provides an innovative help to the field of pedagogy and orientation teaching, bringing young students closer to scientific research from an early age and strengthening specific skills with a view to a more effective structuring of process of pedagogical orientation towards increasingly aware future choices.

Keywords: middle school; yogurt; sensory analyses