Like a seasoned wine taster, Simon Allison sniffs and peers at the product he is testing.
Then he samples a soupcon, noting the blend of flavours and aromas.
Only when he is completely satisfied will Marks & Spencer put the dish on the shelves – among the pet foods.
Graduate Mr Allison is a senior food technologist for Marks & Spencer with special responsibility for pet produce.
He insists he relishes the task and has trained his palate to detect the delicacies preferred by dogs and cats – and their owners.
He said: “It is just the same as if I was working in the ready-meals department. I love my job. It is a brilliant area and eating the product is a fundamental part.
“You have to chew it a bit.
“I have trained my palate to look for materials that we will not allow in the recipe, such as tripe – pet owners react badly to the smell of tripe.
“I’m looking for a patÃ¨ texture, almost to the point where you could spread it on crusty bread.”
His favourite is the organic luxury chicken dinner with vegetables for cats.
“It has the taste and aroma of chicken and some of what you call the red flavours – things like heart and liver; gutsy, savoury notes.