Are you interested in becoming a professional flavor tester? If so, you'll need to have a degree in food science or a related field. You should also be prepared to study food production and learn to describe different flavors and textures. Additionally, it's important to practice eating a variety of foods to train your taste buds. There are consumer flavor evaluators that help food manufacturers decide when a product is ready to go to market.
Lisa Schroeder, for example, is an associate sensory scientist (a professional taster) for Mars Wrigley Confectionery U. As a professional taster, you need to be aware of what consumers demand. These positions are usually not full-time, and some may require you to do the tasting on site, while others can be done from home. Solae's tasting panels have been instrumental in driving soy innovations in frozen desserts, vegetarian foods, and even jerky.
If you're interested in becoming a flavor tester, search the Internet for places that might be hiring near you using “flavor tester” as search words. McCormick, for instance, hires consumer flavor evaluators who may be asked to try a variety of foods, snacks, and beverages during daytime or nighttime tasting sessions at their Hunt Valley, Maryland headquarters or from home. When it comes to professional flavor testers, it's important to note that these positions are not just about gorging on chocolates all day and taking breaks between bites just long enough to scribble notes before treating yourself again. Potential MMR evaluators are first tested to recognize flavors and smells and are asked to describe the attributes of various foods.
Food scientists and sensory analysts are also considered “professional flavor testers”. As you can see, there are several ways to get into this field, and it's not always necessary to have a degree in food science or have experience in tasting. The evaluation of many of these new food products takes place at the CPTC (Consumer Product Testing Company), where panelists taste the food and give their opinion to consumers. Between bites of M&M's, Snickers, Dove and Skittles, Schroeder spends time creating computer programs to evaluate products, plans training before the product launches, organizes panel sessions to test flavors as a team, and continues his own tasting education.
Focus & Testing is one of the leading flavor testing centers in the U. S., based in Los Angeles and specializing in food and beverage research.