Saturday, May 09, 2009

Great Moments in Research: Can People Distinguish Pâté From Dog Food?

This is an actual research paper (PDF format).

I copy and paste the abstract for you, gentle reader:
Considering the similarity of its ingredients, canned dog food could be a suitable and inexpensive substitute for pâté or processed blended meat products such as Spam or liverwurst. However, the social stigma associated with the human consumption of pet food makes an unbiased comparison challenging. To prevent bias, Newman's Own dog food was prepared with a food processor to have the texture and appearance of a liver mousse. In a double-blind test, subjects were presented with five unlabeled blended meat products, one of which was the prepared dog food. After ranking the samples on the basis of taste, subjects were challenged to identify which of the five was dog food. Although 72% of subjects ranked the dog food as the worst of the five samples in terms of taste (Newell and MacFarlane multiple comparison, P<0.05), subjects were not better than random at correctly identifying the dog food.

I can't make this stuff up if I tried.

Then again, maybe this is actually a glorious nerd prank in disguise -- a ploy to get otherwise normal people to eat dog food (!) in the name of research. In that case, I'll laugh and applaud, but I don't think that's the case.

Completely unnecessary and catty comment: Since utterly annoying TV celebrity cook Rachael Ray is now in the business of making her own brand of dog food, I can -- sort of -- see the applicability of the people-food versus dog-food debate. If Ray's behind it, no wonder folks can't tell the difference. (MM: "MEOW!")

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