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Discrimination testing when products have natural variability: Degree of Difference – with Control lot Variation (DoD-CV)


“Will consumers notice if we make the [ingredient/supplier/equipment] change?”

Operations and quality groups are all too familiar with the challenge of maintaining product attributes and profiles through the many changes that are a normal part of commercial production – ingredient, supplier, plant and manufacturing process changes are just but a few examples.

“But WE don’t think it’s different, why are our sensory tests saying it’s different?”

Adding to this challenge is making a product change when there is high batch-to-batch (BtB) variation (Figure 1). Regardless of what underlies this variation, not accounting for BtB variation when testing can easily lead to a false positive/negative result because the test has not taken into account a high batch to batch variation. At the business level, this could lead to lost opportunities in terms of cost savings or margin growth and/or an increase in risk when consumers detect a difference that was missed and that difference changes purchase or consumption behaviours.