A new ISO standard offers the ingredient of objectivity to the delicate debate on the cooking of pasta which is so dependent on subjective taste: what is nice and firm for one is undercooked for the other, too this or too that…

This International Standard specifies a method for assessing, by sensory analysis, the quality of cooked alimentary pasta in the form of long, solid strands (e.g. spaghetti) or short, hollow strands (e.g. macaroni) produced from durum wheat semolina, expressed in terms of the starch release, liveliness and firmness characteristics (i.e. texture) of the pasta. It does not apply to pasta in the form of small strands usually consumed in soups.

The method has been specifically developed to provide a procedure for the daily evaluation of pasta samples based on the use of reference samples. The test result does not express a preference, but gives an estimate of the cooking quality of the pasta after it has been cooked for the optimal time.

A test sample of pasta is cooked by a standard procedure and the starch release, liveliness and firmness are assessed. The operation has to be repeated until the continuous white line, visible at the centre of the crushed strand or the cut section as specified in the method, disappears. The test sample is then rated in accordance with the results.

ISO 7304-2 comes to complete ISO 7304-1, published in 1985, which is used by laboratories throughout the world to estimate the cooking quality of spaghetti.

ISO 7304-2:2008, Alimentary pasta produced from durum wheat semolina – Estimation of cooking quality by sensory analysis – Part 2: Routine method, was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 34, Food product, subcommittee SC 4, Cereals and pulses. It costs 72 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing & Communication department (see right-hand column).