Sensory triangle testing (discrimination test)

Triangle testing is a method that determines whether a sensory difference exists between two products - perhaps following a change in formulation or in processing conditions, or to see if some external factor (e.g. packaging) has influenced a product.

Contact us

Before you Send please insert the same letters and numbers you see in this image captcha_image into this box: (this helps us fight spam)

When you click on the Send button you will be deemed to have accepted our terms and conditions


This video introduces one of the most commonly used sensory discrimination methods: The Triangle Test. We conduct this test on a regular basis on a wide range of food and drink products, using our in house trained panel of assessors.

Non–food products can also be tested for their potential to taint such as disinfectants and packaging.

All tests are conducted under controlled test conditions: air, lighting, temperature, neutral decor. Care is taken to ensure that each product sample is prepared and presented in a standardised and consistent manner to ensure that no sources of bias are introduced which could have a negative impact on the end test result.

The triangle test is principally used to determine whether a sensory difference exists between two products. For example to test whether a change to a product's ingredient, process or packaging has had an impact on it's overall sensory properties.

Samples are prepared in the test kitchen following the clients preparation instructions or normal culinary procedures. Each sample is presented in identical containers and coded using 3 digit codes, following a balanced experimental test design. Each sample is evaluated following a standardised tasting protocol.

To conduct the test; the assessors compare the test product against a control product. Each assessor is presented with three samples (two are the same and one is different) and asked to evaluate the samples from left to right, select the "different" sample and describe the difference perceived.

Assessors are instructed to use palate cleansers such as bottled or filtered water and plain crackers to clean the palate between samples to minimise flavour carry–over.

Each assessor is asked to select a sample even if they think there is no difference between the samples. The assessors are allowed to state that their answer was a guess in the comments section.

The number of correct answers/judgements are counted and compared against statistical tables to verify whether it can be concluded that a statistically significant difference exists between the two samples.

The correct comments are also reported along with any notable trends/patterns identified in the data.

If you would like to find out more about the Sensory Triangle Test, please contact the Sensory Services section for further details.

More on Consumers and sensory

Young woman eating chocolate

The power of using time-based sensory mapping with consumers to characterise your product

The power of sensory data from consumers. A guide to the key outputs of conducting time-based sensory mapping with consumers , the valuable applications of t...

Professional barista testing the smell of a new coffee

Q&A: investigating off flavours and taints

Our experts share their knowledge of off flavours and taints, and how they can support you in this area.

Sensory panel analysing biscuit product

Leveraging sensory insights throughout the product lifecycle

Explore the benefits of applying sensory analysis to produce robust sensory data and make more informed commercial decisions, as well as the risks of not inc...

Woman biting a small chocolate

The benefits of applying consumer insights

Whether developing a new product, optimising an existing one, or looking to leverage insights into consumer journeys, we can help you produce winning product...

People engaging and meeting around a table

Research, partnerships and accessing funding

Craig Leadley, Technology Fellow covers UKRI funding channels, connecting businesses to funding bodies and resources, the exciting research for which we have...

plant-based meat-alternative foods

Creating the texture that consumers want from plant-based alternatives to meat

Food microstructure affects texture and sensory perception. We can use information from imaging microstructure, alongside texture analysis and consumer insig...

Contact an expert