Northeastern University (Blended Meatball Taste Test)

Blended Meatball Taste Test

Students in Food Systems Practicum (PPUA4701) worked with Northeastern Dining to assess the beef/mushroom blend students preferred. Northeastern Dining prepared three beef/mushroom blends (50/50, 60 percent beef/40 percent mushroom and 70 percent beef/30 percent mushroom), which were then offered as a blind taste test during regular lunch hours over a two-day span in September 2016. Students in PPUA4701 surveyed each taster, asking them to rate each sample according to taste, mouthfeel, and overall favor.


  • Project Coordinator: Christopher Bosso
  • Participants: Dining Services, Faculty, Undergraduate Students
  • Dining Service Provider: Outside Contractor - Chartwells
  • Timeframe: One-Time Event
  • Funding: Dining Services

MOC Principles Engaged

  • 4. Leverage Globally Inspired, Plant-Forward Culinary Strategies
  • 7. Lead with Menu Messaging Around Flavor
  • 10. Design Health and Sustainability into Operations and Dining Spaces
  • 20. Serve Less Red Meat, Less Often

Strategies for Collaboration

PPUA5701 is offered each semester by Professor Bosso to enable applied student research for actual clients, including Northeastern Dining. The use of students in PPUA4701 to administer and assess the results of the taste test is but one example of ongoing collaborations between Northeastern Dining and the academic side of the University in service of MOC principles and the mission of MCURC. Some projects (e.g., the taste test) are initiated by dining services, others (e.g., trayless dining) by students themselves.


Students surveyed preferred the 60 percent beef / 40 percent mushroom over the others. The results of the taste test informed Northeastern Dining's efforts to reduce beef consumption by using blends in meatballs, meatloaf, tacos, and other related dishes.


These projects require faculty and staff time beyond normal work assignments, and sometimes require resources for materials. Finding suitable projects on a regular basis can also be a challenge, although Northeastern’s location in a large urban area offers an array of potential projects beyond the campus if none are available within it.

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