Lesson #1 Shouldn’t always trust your nose

Do you ever have dreams about being on a train, plane or bus and suddenly you are the only one in the compartment ? Sounds like the start of a thriller “…the door to the compartment opens and a dark figure walks in. Takes a deep breath, turns around and RUNS away!”
Well this happened to me in real life. I was on a train returning home having worked in the test kitchen on a new mint flavour crisp piece. This was for the launch of a new variant of a chocolate biscuit bar. I remember I was pretty pleased with myself, for having achieved what I thought was the right texture, flavour profile and flavour strength. This was one of my very first projects, so stakes were high! At least that’s how I saw it.
There were a lot of people on the same carriage, but during the journey one by one would move to another carriage…”this is strange I thought”.
It all became clear when I got home and my husband said “Wow, you smell so strongly of mint!” It all made sense then, mint had impregnated my clothes and of course completely numbed my olfactory sensors. The next day I tried the samples I had produced and boy were they strong ! Fortunately for me I had kept some of the lower flavour dose samples. You know, the ones I thought were rejects, as they were not flavourful enough, which proved to be just perfect for the product.
Something similar happened again a few years later, when I was trialling on the factory line and an hour or so into the trial I was convinced that there was not enough flavour in the product and got the engineers checking the dosing pump, which was off course functioning perfectly well. Not believing that my senses could be playing a trick on me, I thought the flavour house had sent a weak flavour, so I decided that the right course of action, if I stood any chance of saving the trial, was to significantly increase the flavour level. You should have been there when a couple of weeks later (had to let the flavour settle first) I tried the samples…

Lesson 1: When working with volatile flavours be aware that your sense of smell can be affected. Follow your plan, don’t panic and never throw out any samples from your trials, at least until you’ve had the time to review them away from strong smells.

OLFACTORY fatigue

“It’s only biscuits…”

Stories, lessons learnt, and hopefully a bit of inspiration for product developers and anyone who is passionate about food.

I admit that I did not bake the biscuits in the picture, I chose this photo because having worked in the food industry as a food technologist, I have loved every minute of it. I have loved food, I have loved science, and I have loved the people and the work challenges.

I wish to pass on some of the things I have experienced and inspire people to enter a professional space that is fueled by passion, science, creativity and dedication.

It may be only biscuits to some, but to those of us lucky to be involved with food, it is a lot more…