Existing research investigating interactions between visual and oral sensory cues has tended to use model food systems. In contrast, this study compared product quality assessments of corn-fed and wheat-fed chicken products among persons recruited in Northern Ireland. Three approaches have been adopted to investigate the effect of colour upon consumer choice of chicken: sensory assessment under normal lighting; focus group discussion; and sensory assessment under controlled lighting conditions. Initial consumer sensory assessment indicated that wheat-fed chicken was perceived to be tenderer and to have a more intense flavour than that which was corn-fed. Qualitative enquiry discerned that this was because consumers perceived the yellow colour of corn-fed chicken negatively. Yellow-coloured corn-fed chicken was therefore again compared with wheat-fed chicken in terms of flavour, texture and overall liking with the flesh colour disguised by means of controlled lighting. Quality ratings for corn-fed chicken were more positive when the yellow flesh colour was disguised, with corn-fed chicken judged to be tenderer than wheat-fed chicken and more flavoursome. This study illustrates the importance of using a combination of methods to gain insight into interactions between different sensory modalities in consumer quality judgements and adds to previous research on the importance of colour upon consumer choice of real foods. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.