Mondelez International the U.S. giant behind Cadbury, Milka and Oreo recruits tasters twice a year. Only those with the most discerning palates need apply. The screening process involves tasting and smelling progressively more similar chocolate samples to see if you can distinguish between them.
‘Around 30 per cent of people can’t detect small differences between products, so this testing is the only way to find out if you can,’ says Caroline Robbins, 53, who manages a team of chocolate tasters at Mondelez in Reading, Berkshire.
‘Testers work four days a week for two hours a day any longer and they get palate fatigue. They must not eat spicy foods the night before and avoid wearing perfumes and smoking in order to keep their noses fresh.’
Caroline, a sensory technician, started life as a chocolate taster. ‘I saw the job advertised, applied to see if it was real and was invited to a three-day screening to see if I had what it takes,’ she says. She was a taster for two years before she moved into her role organizing and managing tests and tasters. ‘Tasting panel members are asked to assess samples for flavour, aroma, texture and after-taste and report on them,’ she says.
‘We provide training in the vocabulary. For instance, samples might be smoky, sweet or creamy and textures crumbly or fast melting. It’s a serious job if a sample fails the panel test, it might have to go back to our developers, which can be expensive, or not make it to market.’
Angela Coleshill, competitiveness director from the Food and Drinks Federation, says: ‘Food tasting and sensory technology are among the many fascinating careers in the industry. ‘The sector needs 130,000 new people in the next decade, especially those with an interest in science, technology engineering and maths.’
© Daily Mail