The term 'food texture' embraces a large number of textural characteristics which are identified and evaluated by the consumer in a well-defined order during mastication. In addition, there are several non-oral methods of evaluation. Consumer evaluation of textural characteristics can be time-consuming and the data difficult to analyse, so it would be useful to replace this method of evaluation by instrumental methods. Various instrumental techniques have been used in the past but only recently has it been recognized that the test conditions must simulate those associated with consumer evaluation. This is because all methods of evaluation subject the food to some structural damage, and if the instrumental techniques do not produce the same order of change in the food as consumer evaluation then they do not provide information that is relevant to the latter process. Procedures are now available for ascertaining the mechanical conditions associated with consumer evaluation. Meaningful instrumental techniques will be useful in the future for ensuring the retention of desirable textural characteristics in convenience foods and in meat analogues containing protein from new sources.