International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases

: 2016  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 12--22

Acceptability of reformulated whole-grain products using net acceptance score (NAS) and relative acceptance score (RAS)

Annamalai Manickavasagan1, Ihsan Abbas1, Lorna Cork2, Mohib Ahmed Khan3, Sawsana Al-Rahbi1, Kabaly Subramanian4, Marla Reicks5,  
1 Department of Soils, Water and Agricultural Engineering, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman
2 Industrial Innovation Center, Muscat, Oman
3 Atyab Food Tech LLC, Muscat, Oman
4 Faculty of Business Studies, Arab Open University, Muscat, Oman
5 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Correspondence Address:
Annamalai Manickavasagan
College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Khoud, PO No. 34, PC 123, Muscat


Objectives: (1) To determine the proximate composition and sensory qualities of three traditional, commonly consumed Omani grain products (samoon, khubs, and rekhal), while replacing refined refined-wheat flour by whole wheat flour at three levels (0%, 50%, and 100%). (2) To develop the Net Acceptance Score (NAS) and Relative Acceptance Score (RAS) based on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) using sensory evaluation results. Materials and Methods: Samoon, khubs, and rekhal were reformulated with whole wheat flour at three levels: (i) RF100 (refined flour 100%, control), (ii) RF50 WWF50 (refined flour 50% + whole wheat flour 50%), and iii) WWF100 (whole wheat flour 100%). Proximate composition analysis and sensory evaluation [using the hedonic scale (9–1)] were conducted for each product type. The hedonic scores received from the panelists were then used to calculate the Net Acceptance Score (NAS) and the Relative Acceptance Score (RAS). The NAS is an indicator of the net acceptability of an individual product, whereas RAS is the relative acceptability of the reformulated product with respect to the control product. Results: Among all three product types, NAS of taste was the highest for WWF100. The NAS values of the taste attribute for WWF100 were 42%, 73%, and 16% for rekhal, khubs, and samoon, respectively. Both RF50 WWF50 and WWF100 rekhal products yielded the RAS value of 100%.

How to cite this article:
Manickavasagan A, Abbas I, Cork L, Khan MA, Al-Rahbi S, Subramanian K, Reicks M. Acceptability of reformulated whole-grain products using net acceptance score (NAS) and relative acceptance score (RAS).Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis 2016;6:12-22

How to cite this URL:
Manickavasagan A, Abbas I, Cork L, Khan MA, Al-Rahbi S, Subramanian K, Reicks M. Acceptability of reformulated whole-grain products using net acceptance score (NAS) and relative acceptance score (RAS). Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Jul 14 ];6:12-22
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Full Text


The recent estimate in Arab Gulf countries showed that 63–75% of adults and 25–40% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.[1] The rates of prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in some Gulf countries rank among the highest in the world. Whole grains are an important component of a healthy diet. Global health organizations recommend that individuals increase their daily intake of whole grains, as increased consumption reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7] The higher fiber content in whole-grain products provides several health benefits, as it aids digestion in the colon.[8],[9],[10]

In general, whole-grain consumption in Arab countries is decreasing compared to refined grains, leading to decreased fiber in the typical Arab diet.[11] Whole-grain products contain more nutrients but are coarser in texture and darker in color compared to their refined-grain counterpart products.[12] Consequently, products made with 100% whole grains are deemed less acceptable by consumers, who prefer them less than products made with refined flour. Incorporation of whole grains into regularly consumed traditional Arab foods is a practical approach to increase whole-grain consumption. Partial blending of whole grains with refined grains in product preparations has improved overall acceptability.[13] There is a need to develop commercially available products using the partial substitution of refined grains with whole grains.[14]

The objective of this study was to determine the proximate composition and sensory qualities of three traditional, commonly consumed Omani grain products (samoon, khubs, and rekhal), while replacing refined wheat flour by whole-wheat flour at three levels (0%, 50%, and 100%).

The hedonic scale scores (9–1) collected from panelists were used to develop the Net Acceptance Score (NAS) and Relative Acceptance Score (RAS) based on the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a popular concept in marketing.[15]


In general, customer satisfaction survey questionnaires are lengthy, complicated, and confusing. This yields a low response rate with ambiguous results. Complex questions result in confused responses and poor correlations with an organization&'s profit or growth. Senior executives, board members, and investors remain reserved when deciding if the outcome of a survey should be practically applied to their business model.[15]

Reichheld [15] introduced the concept of the NPS in the Harvard Business Review. The concept of the NPS is derived from just one question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” The customer response is obtained on an 11-point scale (0–10) and the NPS is calculated as explained in [Figure 1].[16]{Figure 1}

To obtain NPS, the percentage of respondents rating 6 or less (called “Detractors”) is subtracted from the percentage of respondents rating 9 or 10 (called “Promoters”).[15] The rationale was that people highly likely to recommend a firm were implied as being loyal to it.[17] Another attractive feature of the NPS is its simplicity. In this study, two scoring systems, based on the principles of NPS, were developed and tested on the sensory scores of the reformulated products.


Generally, in sensory analysis, hedonic scores are statistically analyzed with mean and standard deviations to evaluate the differences between products. In some situations, this may not be sufficient to characterize products. In this paper a new scoring system (derived from hedonic score values obtained in the sensory test) is discussed. [Figure 2] explains how the nine levels on a hedonic scale are classified into three groups. Here, similar to the concept of the promoter in NPS, the “acceptors” are very excited about the product. They accept the products wholeheartedly. In the second group (hedonic score 5–7), the liking is moderate and the panelist may or may not accept the product. People in this group are “neutral” or passive to that product. The people in the “rejecter” group do not like the product at various levels. Therefore the NAS is calculated as:{Figure 2}


For each product and sensory attribute, NAS can be calculated and compared with their counterparts. This will provide detailed information about the acceptability of the product in addition to the mean hedonic score. In NAS calculation, the products are not compared with any other products, and the hedonic score received by the product is used as it is to calculate NAS.


In real-time applications, there are several situations in which two products are compared thus: “How is the second product with respect to the first one?” Therefore, a RAS has been developed and also used in this paper.

To calculate RAS, first Δhedonic is calculated as the difference between the hedonic scores of two products given by an individual panelist. For example, while comparing a reformulated product with a control product, [Table 1] explains how Δhedonic is calculated. [Figure 3] gives the interpretation of Δhedonic values to calculate RAS. If Δhedonic is positive, then the reformulated product is better than the control and so on. Therefore while comparing any product with respect to another product (or control), a number of positives, zeros, and negatives are counted through Δhedonic and used in the calculation of RAS:{Table 1}{Figure 3}


If the objective of comparison is to determine the better product, then RAS can be calculated just by subtracting negatives from positives and zeros could be omitted. However, in this study, we used the equation given above for the calculation of RAS.

Product description


Bread is a globally consumed, low-cost product that can be broadly classified into three major types: i) high-rising, such as sliced bread ii) medium-rising, such as burger bun bread, and iii) low- or no-rising, such as flat bread and thin bread. Burger buns are easily prepared and widely consumed as sandwiches with cheese, meat, jam, and so on for breakfast or lunch or dinner. In many Arab countries burger buns are known as samoon.


Flat bread has been consumed as a staple food for many centuries. There is a great diversity of flat bread types known by different names, such as chapatti (India), baladi or Arabic (Egypt), bouri (Saudi Arabia), tandoori (Iran), and khubs (Oman). The reasons for the increased popularity of flat breads arethat fewer ingredients are required, preparation is simple, and they are less expensive.[18] Khubs is a common flat bread consumed by people living in all regions of Oman.


Rekhal or thin bread is a type of traditional food usually prepared from grains such as wheat, rice, sorghum, rye, oats, or barley. Based on their raw materials and preparation procedures, these breads are called various names such as ciaballa (Italy), kissra (Sudan), dosa (India), and rekhal (Oman). It is considered one of the most famous traditional foods in Oman. Rekhal is usually consumed for breakfast or dinner and sometimes even for lunch, along with an accompaniment such as salona, milk, honey, cheese, or egg. On average, most Omanis consume rekhal breads three times a week.

 Materials and Methods

Product preparation

The selected products were prepared with three formulations: (i) Control - refined flour 100% (RF100); (ii) Refined flour 50% + whole-wheat flour 50% (RF50-WWF50), (iii) Whole-wheat flour 100% (WWF100). Each product was produced three times (three batches on different days, n = 3) and analyzed.


For each formulation, 2000 g flour (RF or WWF or both based on blend formula) mixed with other baking ingredients: yeast (40 g), sugar (160 g), salt (30 g), hydrogenated vegetable oil (100 g), and water (quantity varied to achieve a consistent soft dough, as determined by a professional baker), and allowed to rest for 10 min, then kneaded for 3 min at low speed and 6 min at high speed using a kneader. The resulting dough was molded and placed in a pre-oiled baking bowl. The dough was left for 45 min at room temperature (around 26°C) for fermentation, to become smooth. It was divided into equal balls and baked in a drying oven for 15 min at 180°C. Samoon bread was then left in the oven to cool for 15 min and kept at room temperature in sealed plastic bags for sensory evaluation and chemical analysis.


For each formulation, 2000 g of flour (RF or WWF or both based on blend formula) were mixed with other baking ingredients: Salt (15 g), sugar (60 g), yeast (10 g), and water. The dough mixture was kneaded at low disk speed for 5 min, and then at high disk speed for 5 min to obtain a smooth dough mass. The dough was then rounded into balls of uniform weight (15 g) and covered with a wet cloth for 10 min at 30°C. Then each dough ball was flattened into a sheet (approximately 12 cm diameter and 3 mm thickness). Bread sheets were then left to ferment at room temperature for 15 min. After fermentation, they were baked in an oven at 450°C for 25 s.


For each formulation, 2000 g of flour (RF or WWF or both based on blend formula) were mixed with salt (2 g) and water. The dough was kneaded well until it became soft, then allowed to rest for 15 min. A small amount of dough (approximately 80 g) was spread on a circular hot steel plate (at about 150°C), and kept there till the end of baking (12–15 s).

Proximate composition analysis

The chemical analysis for flat and thin breads was conducted using International Standard Organization procedures (ISO) [moisture content (MC) ISO 712 (2009); crude fiber ISO 712 (2009); protein ISO 1871 (2007); ash ISO 2171 (2007)]. The fat and total carbohydrate contents were measured using American Association of Cereal Chemists and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations&' standards, respectively.

Sensory evaluation

For each batch of product preparation, 15 untrained panelists working at Atyab Food Tech LLC (Muscat, Sultanate of Oman) were used for sensory evaluation (total number of panelists = 15; 15 × 3 batches = 45/product type). The ages of panelists were in the range of 35–45 years. Sensory evaluation was conducted on the same day as bread preparation. Information about the ingredients of each sample was given to the panelists before sensory evaluation. The panelists were asked to evaluate the color, overall appearance, mouthfeel, and taste of the test product using the hedonic sensory scale: 9 – “like extremely,” 8 – “like very much,” 7 – “like moderately,” 6 – “like slightly,” 5 – “neither like nor dislike,” 4 – “dislike slightly,” 3 – “dislike moderately,” 2 – “dislike very much,” and 1 – “dislike extremely.” During sensory evaluation, panelists were instructed to rinse their palate with water after each sample.

 Results and Discussion

Proximate analysis


The results of the chemical analysis of samoon bread are shown in [Table 2]. The MC was in the range of 32–34%. There was no difference between the MC of the three samoon products. The total fiber content of the whole-wheat-blended samoon bread was in the range of 0.7–1.2%. It increased with the increasing amount of whole-wheat flour. This could be due to the presence of fiber in the bran of the whole-wheat flour, which include mostly the lignin, cellulose, and hemicelluloses compounds.[19],[20] The WWF100 samoon had higher ash content than RF100 samoon. The high ash content in whole-wheat samoon breads may be due to the presence of an appreciable quantity of minerals found in the germ and the bran.[21] There were no differences in protein, fat, and carbohydrate contents between the three products.{Table 2}


The three khubs formulations (RF100, RF50-WWF50, and WWF100) were significantly different based on the analysis of protein (4.7–6.5%), ash (0.9–1.7%), fiber (0.3–1.1%), and fat (0.9–1.2%) contents. These contents were increasing as the amount of whole-wheat flour increased. There were no differences in the total carbohydrate content between the three formulations. MC was similar in RF100 and RF50-WWF50, whereas it was different in WWF100. This might be attributed to the higher capacity of water absorption of the fiber in whole wheat.[22],[23],[24] See et al.[25] determined the effect of adding pumpkin flour to the bread on its physicochemical attributes. It was reported that the MC was increased due to the higher water absorption capacity of pumpkin flour. The ash and fiber contents were also observed to be significantly higher in the supplemented bread than in the control wheat bread.


The proximate composition analysis showed that the amount of protein, ash, and fat increased on increasing the amount of whole-wheat flour in the three formulations of rekhal. The increase in ash content could be due to the increase in minerals.[26] Similarly, the fiber content was significantly different in the three formulations and increased incrementally in the increment of whole-wheat flour formulations. There was no significant difference in carbohydrate content between the three formulations. Rekhal breads are usually stored for 2–3 weeks due to the low MC, compared to the other baked breads.

Sensory quality

The images of the developed products and their sensory scores are given in [Figure 4] and [Table 3], respectively.{Figure 4}{Table 3}



Color is an attribute that involves both physical and psychological components.[27] The colors of three samoon products were significantly different from each other. Color decreased with increasing levels of whole-wheat flour. In another study, Singh et al.[28] reported the perception of darker color in whole-wheat bread. The darker color of the whole-wheat flour-blended samoon bread could be due to higher fiber content.[29]

Overall appearance

The overall appearance of the products received a mean score of 6.4–7.2. The trend in color attribute was also observed in overall appearance.


“Mouthfeel” is described asthe first perception immediately after placing food in the mouth. The mean score of this attribute for samoon bread ranged 6.2–6.6, and WWF100 samoon scored the lowest.


It is the gustatory perception caused by soluble substances in the mouth.[27] The mean score received for the taste attribute of samoon breads was in the range 6.3–6.5. However, there were no differences between the products. Hussain et al.[30] reported that fortifying flat bread with flaxseed (by adding up to 12% full-fat flaxseed or 16% partial defatted flaxseed) did not affect the acceptability of the product.



The likeness score of color was higher for RF100 bread than for whole-wheat flour-blended breads. WWF100 received “like slightly” (mean score = 5.8) for the color attribute. Emire and Arega [31] evaluated the sensory qualities of bread while adding amaranth. It was reported that the crust color of the bread darkened as the substitution of amaranth increased, which in turn affected the mean score for product color.

Overall appearance

The panelists gave the highest score (mean score = 7.8) to RF100 for overall appearance. Hu et al.[29] reported that the overall appearance of whole-wheat products may be affected by the perception of fiber.


The mouthfeel score for the three products ranged 7.4–7.8, and there were no differences between the products.


The product WWF100 product received the highest score (mean score = 7.8) for taste. There were no differences between RF100 and RF50-WWF50 products.

Several researchers have reformulated wheat-based breads with different substitutes and investigated the changes in nutritional and sensory properties.

Abdulrahman and Ali [32] reported that flat bread with 10% groundnut flour was considered by panelists to be as good as the control bread; however, overall acceptance decreased on adding a higher amount of groundnut flour to the bread. Levent and Bilgicli [33] studied the nutritional and functional qualities of flat bread by the incorporation of lupin, buckwheat, and oat flours at various levels. The blend with 10% lupin, 10% buckwheat, and 10% oat flour scored the highest after the control bread for appearance, shape, texture, taste, odor, and overall acceptability. Salehifar et al.[34] examined the differences in the sensory attributes of flat bread made from wheat flours with different protein quantities. The bread with the highest amount of protein scored the lowest on sensory analysis, due to the effect of protein on the dough and the final structure of the product.



The WWF100 product received the lowest score (mean score = 4.3) for color. Rekhal made with only refined flour scored the highest value, 7.2.

Overall appearance

Although the panelists did not prefer the color of the WWF100 product, they liked the overall appearance of this product (mean score = 7.0) compared to other products (mean score = 4.5–5.3).


The mouthfeel score increased with the amount of whole-wheat flour.


The taste of WWF100 rekhal scored the highest and that of RF100 rekhal scored the lowest.


NAS is an independent score for an individual product. The NAS values for the visual quality of three products are given in [Figure 5]. In all products, RF100 scored the highest values for the color attribute. It also decreased according to the level of whole-wheat flour addition. Similar trends were observed in overall appearance scores with the exception of rekhal. The NAS of overall appearance for RF100 rekhal was 51%. The RF100% khubs scored 100% by NAS for overall appearance.{Figure 5}

The NAS of mouthfeel and taste attributes followed an almost similar trend in all products [Figure 6]. It was the highest for khubs and ranged 44–73% for taste and 69–78% for mouthfeel. For samoon, the NAS was 13–16% for mouthfeel and 22–27% for taste. Rekhal recorded the lowest NAS compared to the other two products. For both attributes, RF100 and RF50-WWF50 rekhal products had a negative NAS. However, the NAS values were 29% and 42% for the mouthfeel and taste attributes of WWF100 rekhal, respectively.{Figure 6}

In general, while comparing the NAS of four attributes, samoon scored positive values at all levels of reformulation. The taste and mouthfeel attributes of WWF100 samoon were the highest among their corresponding counterparts. But NAS of color and appearance was the lowest for WWF100 samoon. This clearly indicates that 100% replacement increased the taste and mouthfeel values of samoon but made the product visually displeasing. For rekhal, WWF100 scored the highest NAS for all attributes except color. Interestingly, for these three attributes, the RF100 scored the lowest NAS. This means that control rekhal, made of 100% refined flour, was not liked very much by Omani people.


When using the RAS, the hedonic scores of RF50-WWF50 and WWF100 products provided by the panelists were compared against the control counterpart product (RF100).

RAS values for visual attributes are given in [Figure 7]. The colors of all reformulated products scored negative RAS except for the reformulated RF50-WWF50 samoon bread. The appearance of reformulated rekhal products was liked very much by the panelists, and the RAS increased to 87–100%. But the appearance of the two other product types followed the negative color score trend.{Figure 7}

The mouthfeel and taste attributes of all reformulated products scored positive RAS [Figure 8]. All panelists (100%) preferred (or equally accepted) the taste of reformulated rekhal products in comparison to control. Taste and mouthfeel RAS was 2–38% for reformulated samoon and 33–69% for reformulated khubs. The three reformulated product types can be ranked based on mouthfeel and taste attributes as: 1. Rekhal, 2. Khubs, and 3. Samoon.{Figure 8}

NAS and RAS provided information in addition to the hedonic score values. For example, observing [Table 3] it can be stated that there was no difference in taste between the three blends of samoon. But from [Figure 8] it could be further analyzed that 38% of panelists stated that the taste of RF50-WF50 samoon was equal to or better than control samoon. Similarly, the sensory score for mouthfeel was the same for all three blends of khubs. Additionally, we could interpret that 69% and 60% of panelists accepted the mouthfeel of RF50-WF50 and WWF100 khubs respectively, which were equal to or better than the control khubs. For rekhal, all hedonic scores were different for the three blends. Scores increased for all attributes except color, when increasing the amount of whole-wheat flour. Similar to samoon and khubs, we may obtain much more information when using NAS and RAS. These two acceptance scores might be used along with hedonic scores to further characterize the acceptability of new or reformulated products. In this study, out of the four tested sensory attributes, taste and mouthfeel yielded almost similar NAS and RAS values.

Similar to the “one question” concept of NPS, it may be possible to identify only one or two important questions to use in the sensory sheet, to determine the acceptability of new or modified food products.


Three products were reformulated by replacing white flour with whole-wheat flour. The developed products were deemed acceptable by the panelists. The NAS and RAS methods provided additional product information to the traditional sensory-sheet evaluation. These scoring methods may be effectively used along with sensory scores while developing new products or modifying existing products.


The authors would like to sincerely acknowledge the Industrial Innovation Center (IIC) and Atyab Food Tech LLC, Oman Flour Mills Company for their financial support under the project “Whole wheat product development and awareness creation in Oman.”

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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