All interested parties are invited to participate in the standards developing activities of Subcommittee E18.05 on Sensory Applications--General, part of ASTM International Committee E18 on Sensory Evaluation.
E18.05 is responsible for the important sensory evaluation standard, ASTM E1958, Guide for Sensory Claim Substantiation. First issued in 1998, and most recently revised in 2012, ASTM E1958 continues to be a widely used document in the consumer goods industry; the committee is discussing future revisions.
The objective of ASTM E1958 is to disseminate best practices for sensory and consumer testing for product claims substantiation. Key features include principles of recruiting and testing representative consumers, procuring and preparing products, developing product questionnaires, fielding research, and statistical analysis of data.
The last revision to ASTM E1958 updates research design and statistical analysis for product preference testing. The guide now: 1) advocates including a “no preference” option in the questionnaire to document consumers who do not have a product preference; and 2) includes statistical treatment of the data including no preference votes.
Topics currently under discussion for future revisions include: 1) moving from regional to representative sampling to reflect the increase in internet testing; and 2) a new section on documentation in case of a legal challenge. E18 is also planning a workshop on ASTM E1958 to be held in the fall of 2014.
According to Mona Wolf, chairman of the Task Group E18.05.09 on Advertisement Claim Substantiation, ASTM E1958 is now considered to be the go-to document for best practice guidelines in sensory advertisement claim substantiation.
Prior to the 1990s, the consumer package goods industry only had sensory advertisement claims requirements from all three of the major American television networks. The National Advertising Division of the Councils of Better Business Bureaus (NAD) provided cases studies to use as guides. However, major challenges existed with the information.
“The network requirements and the NAD case studies were inconsistent,” says Wolf. “The largest issue was that at no point had the sensory professional been included in the development of the recommended practices. When NAD approached E18 to encourage the sensory community to put forth our ideas on best practices, E1958 was developed.”
Daniel Ennis, an E18 member and expert witness in false advertising cases, notes that ASTM E1958 is often cited in such cases as well as cases that appear before the NAD.
“Although many factors may influence the outcome of a particular case, such as new research and topics not included in the guide, E1958 has proven to be a valuable and authoritative resource reflecting the expertise of a larger number of experienced ASTM members,” says Ennis.
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ASTM Committee E18 Next Meeting: April 8-10, 2014, April Committee Week, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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December 12, 2013