Researchers at CASS work closely with the Australian Government and food industry to help guide policy and marketing. We also promote consumer, sensory, safety and flavour science research both within Australia and internationally.
Research within CASS currently spans a number of sensory and food topics.
Descriptive Analysis Panel
Our descriptive panel has operated for over eight years and has provided objective flavour profiles for our industry partners. Each member of our panel has over 200 hours of training and testing experience. We've worked on fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, meat and even toilet paper.
Consumer Quality Panel
The panel was established in 2015 and uses unique methodology to gain consumer insights into consumer goods. For example, we recently completed an exploratory analysis of various iced coffee currently available in Melbourne.
CASS Consumer Database
One of our largest assets is the CASS Consumer Database, which lists around 500 members. Our diverse panellists are always eager to assist in our latest research projects.
Australia’s increasing export activity with Asia highlights a growing need for strong consumer insight into that market, with dairy consumption trends being of particular interest.
CASS has established strong collaborative links with research institutes throughout Asia (specifically China and Thailand) and aims to form more in the future.
Children as consumers
Children’s consumption behaviours tend to differ from adults'. Their lack of full cognitive development can make the assessment of a child’s sensory perceptions difficult.
Our researchers thrive on the challenge of determining what attributes influence children’s food choices and sensory sensitivities.
Salt and sugar
Salt and sugar are two of the most problematic nutrients in the food supply, with over-consumption of each responsible for numerous pathologies. They're also key ingredients in foods that modify food preference.
Our research program is focused on understanding how we perceive salt and sugar (as well as other ‘non-traditional’ tastes), and how we can decrease levels in foods without adversely affecting consumer enjoyment.
Food choice and behaviours
A number of consumer and sensory science-related factors play a role in influencing the foods people eat every day.
Our research investigates how and to what degree these factors influence consumer food choice, behaviour and intake.
Non-traditional tastes (fat and carbohydrates)
Apart from the five basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami), we also focus on other ‘non-traditional’ tastes such as carbohydrates and fat.
Our research in this area is gaining rapid global interest and supporting potential new theories on current global health-related issues.
Satiety (feeling of fullness)
All consumers tend to eat to feel fill-satisfied. However, individual satiety levels are influenced by a variety of individual, environmental and psychological elements.
Our research aims to uncover how these different factors shape our individual consumption behaviours and ways in which we can alter them.
The analysis of the chemical components that make up a food aroma is important, especially when related to sensory science and consumer acceptability of foods.
CASS is home to modern separation science instrumentation for qualitative and quantitative flavour determination. We use our expertise in gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and olfactometry detection to dissect flavour from complex food samples. CASS seeks to continuously enhance analytical chemistry capability for food and flavour science, by developing, adopting and applying cutting edge technologies for flavour extraction and flavour analysis.
Working with industry
At CASS, our research focuses on determining how sensory sensations influence individuals, and the ways in which we can improve the sustainability of our food industry. We welcome industry partners and the opportunity to work on commercially orientated short- or long-term projects.
As an industry partner, your organisation will have access to one of Melbourne’s leading centres in sensory, consumer and flavour science. We have state-of-the-art facilities and a team of highly skilled experts with over 50 years of combined experience across a variety of research areas.
Our partnership agreements span a continuum from full collaboration to full consultancy. Contact us to discuss what partnership option would best suit your organisation.
Where all data is shared and publishable
Full collaborative research projects aim to address an issue of significance to both groups. Funding is sought from a research agency or government body to support the research.
The aim is for the research outcomes to impact positively on the industry partner's operations while simultaneously contributing to the University's research reputation through publication.
Where all data and intellectual property is owned by the industry partner
Full consultancy research projects are when CASS experts are contracted to an external industry party for a commercial fee. For example, our industry partner may need access to our large consumer panel to determine a product reformulation or potential market success.
Other projects may include sensory or flavour training programs, or data analysis and advice. Any intellectual property developed belongs to the industry partner.
Join our research team
To become a CASS research student, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to investigate and which academic staff member you wish to study with.
We welcome specific enquiries by all prospective honours, PhD and postdoctoral students to CASS staff.
Once you know what you want to do, discuss your proposal with a potential supervisor at CASS.
Are you a current Deakin undergraduate student interested in sensory or consumer science? Learn more about our 12-week CASS-Academy program to gain some hands-on industry experience while you study.
Participate in our studies
You can take part in our studies by joining the CASS Consumber Database. Our consumer panellists are a unique group who get paid to assist with various CASS studies and industry-related consumer snack food tests.
We run a variety of both long- and short-term studies. Some studies may require participants who meet certain selection criteria.
In order to become a CASS panellist you must:
- be 18 years or older
- have no known food allergies or intolerances
- have no association with a marketing company or media outlets
- buy, like and consume various snack foods.
If you fit these criteria, you can sign up by completing our online survey. The survey takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.
About the study sessions
Each study session will usually run for approximately one hour. However, some studies may require less time (30 minutes) or more time (90 minutes to two hours). Certain long- or short-term trials may also involve multiple visits.
Our studies run at various intervals throughout the year and are usually held at our state-of-the-art sensory centre in Burwood (located at the Deakin Burwood Campus).
Benefits of joining the CASS Consumer Database
Becoming a CASS panellist means you have the opportunity to assist in innovative research trials, and even try new and exciting consumer snack foods, some of which may not be commercially available.
For most sessions, you'll be reimbursed with a gift voucher. The actual amount received is subject to study funding.
By completing our 5-minute recruitment survey, you'll be automatically added to our CASS Consumer Database.
Because your food behaviours and preferences change over time, CASS will contact you at the end of each year to renew your membership by re-completing the above survey.
Withdrawing from the CASS Consumer Database
If you decide to remove yourself from our CASS Consumer Database, please complete the Withdrawal of Consent form (PDF, 95.4KB) and email or send it to us.
Any uncollated or unpublished information obtained from you will not be used and be destroyed.
Our CASS Consumer Database has been approved by the Deakin Human Ethics committee. For more information relating to the project you can download a copy of the Plain Language Statement (PDF, 314KB).
Our research has featured in a variety of media and publications.
For journal publications, please refer to our staff profiles under 'Our team', which list academic output.
Newspaper and online articles
How to cook the perfect rice, according to science
SBS, May 2020
Just the taste of fat can make you feel full without eating
Deakin media release, March 2020
Researcher found children eat more vegetables when offered as a snack
Herald Sun, February 2019
Super tasters, non-tasters and how your tongues’s bumps may affect your appetite
ABC News, August 2018
How sensitive are you to the taste of fat?
ABC News, August 2018
Want to eat better? You might be able to train yourself to change your tastes
The Conversation, May 2018
People aren’t born with a ‘taste’ for fat – they learn it
The Age, April 2018
Why we might be addicted to carbs
Herald Sun, November 2017
Turns out carbohydrates have a unique taste — which might explain why you can’t stop eating them
Channel Nine Coach, October 2017
Scientists have found evidence carbohydrate is the sixth taste
The Daily Telegraph, October 2017
Chemicals and caffeine: what’s the deal with decaf?
SBS Food, February 2017
How food manufacturers make junk food as moreish as possible
Channel Nine Coach, February 2017
So there's a scientific reason why we always have room for dessert
The Huffington Post, January 2017
Hated veggies as a kid? These are the scientific reasons why
The Huffington Post, December 2016
This is why junk food tastes so bloody good
The Huffington Post, December 2016
Science explains why you can't stop eating potato chips
TIME Magazine, March 2016
High-fat diets change taste buds, leading to overeating: research
ABC News, January 2016
Is fat the sixth basic taste?
Food Navigator, February 2015
ABC News – AM with Adam Shirley
Professor Russell Keast discusses how flavour and taste impact food choices at all ages – 12 June 2020
ABC News – PM with Sonya Feldhoff
Professor Russell Keast discusses how to cook chicken safely – 1 May 2020
ABC News – PM with Paul Gough
Professor Russell Keast discusses the science behind cooking ‘perfect’ rice – 24 April 2020
ABC Radio - Life Matters
Dr. Georgie Russell and PhD Candidate Jookeong Lee discuss their investigation of children’s tactile sensitivity and fussy eating – January 2020
Vision Australia Radio – Table Talk
Professor Russell Keast discusses the topic of ‘Fat as Taste’ – 19 August 2015.
ABC News – PM with Tim Palmer
Professor Russell Keast and PhD candidate Andrew Costanzo discuss how research is finding that high fat diets change taste buds, which may lead to overeating – 19 January 2016.