Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimenation (CSGA), France
Organisational form: government
Focus on: food and agriculture
Major activities: research, education and training
INRA, The National Research Institute for Agriculture Research is a public institute administered by the ministries of Agriculture and Research. Formed in 1946, the Institute now employs a staff of 8690, including 4120 researchers. INRA is organised into 14 departments at 21 centres, and has an annual budget of nearly 600 million Euro.
INRA covers all aspects of agricultural, food and environmental research concentrating on 5 major areas:
- Mangement of the environment
- Safe and healthy diet
- From the genome to the whole organism
- High-throughput computing
- Aid to decision making in the public and in private sectors social science
Sensory and consumer research is conducted mainly in the Department of Human Nutrition and in the Department of Characterisation and Elaboration of Agricultural Products. Its research is an essential component of INRA’s theme of improving human food quality, safety and nutrition through the understanding of the nutritional needs and consumer expectations, and refining new products and nutritional practices.
The Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation (CSGA) in Dijon encompasses a unique research area on food sensory properties, sensory processes (from detection to representation), and eating behaviour. This research unit includes about 150 scientists and technical staff and about 40 students. The general objective is to get a better understanding of physico-chemical, molecular, cellular, behavioural and psychological mechanisms underlying sensory perception of food. The studies range from the release of aromatic substances and sapid molecules from the food matrix to the psychology and behaviour of consumer, through the biological events of food perception.
This is performed at various levels peripheral (taste-olfaction) and central by studying some of the brain area involved (olfactory bulb, hypothalamus) and their involvement in food intake regulation. Changes in sensory perception in physiological (development, experience) or pathological conditions (nutrient excess, aging) are studied, along with the impact of food factors (sensory properties and extrinsic characteristics such as brand, packaging information, price) and consumer factors (sensory thresholds, sensory memory, psychological factors) on consumers’ preference and behaviour.