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Research lab at BYU pays for participants to taste foods

Posted at 9:16 AM, Jan 23, 2023

PROVO, Utah — There are only two sure things in life - and they aren't death and taxes. It's the guarantee that college students are always hungry and always need money.

Brigham Young University has a solution for both.

The Food Sensory Lab at the campus recruits students to test a variety of different treats and snacks.

"We have the wonderful opportunity to help food manufacturers and restaurant chains along with the professors and grad students in their research that they do," explained Amanda Rees, manager of the lab. "We collect consumer data."

Research conducted includes testing a new item, tweaking the existing recipe or even recreating a competitor's product.

"The service that we provide is collecting their data, we analyze it, and then we write a very formal report for them," Rees said.

Rachel Pierce said she considers this a "fun test" compared to her other exams, and she enjoys the process.

"I've done it a lot of times, I honestly can't even count like how many times I've done it," she explained. "You know sometimes they need walk-ins or you can sign up on their database ad they’ll send out emails."

Beyond a tasty (and free) snack, testers also get paid anywhere from five to 20 dollars per panel.

"I mean, you get paid to eat food," Pierce said, "Which is I mean, that's like the best job ever!"

The Food Sensory Lab isn't the only study facility available to students for tests. There's also an exercise science department, a college of humanities and more.