Food scientists working to diminish, mask bitter tastes in foods

June 24, 2014

Food scientists are working to block, mask and/or distract from bitter tastes in foods to make them more palatable to consumers, many of whom are genetically sensitive to bitter tastes, according to a new presentation at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® in New Orleans.

"Many factors go into why we eat what we do," said John Hayes, PhD, assistant professor of food science and director of the Sensory Evaluation Center at Pennsylvania State University, with taste consistently ranking as number one. There's also "a huge variability in how much bitterness people taste. If something is bitter you like it less and you eat it less."

Many foods, such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus, kale, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, tea, soy and caffeine, have a bitter taste. People with a high sensitivity to bitterness eat 25 percent fewer vegetables, said Hayes.

The bitter perception is "highly complex," according to Hayes, with 25 known bitter receptor genes. "It's also not destiny. Learning can override innate aversions. You can learn to like things."

And yet as consumer preference grows for products with specific nutrients or ingredients, food scientists are working to mask or diminish bitter and other tastes, said Robert Sobel, PhD, vice president of research and innovation at FONA International.

"There's an increasing market opportunity to attenuate bitterness perception and improve palatability and preference among consumers," said Sobel.

In high-energy drinks, for example, consumers are seeking a high level of caffeine, and yet caffeine can be very bitter. Food manufacturers often add a "high-intensity" sweetener to energy drinks, and because the brain has a preference for sweetness, it diminishes the perception of bitterness. The addition of "phantom aromas," such as vanilla, berry, citrus, bacon or even cheese, can distract the brain from acknowledging a bitter to taste.

Other additives can mask or "mitigate a bitter taste." Lactisole, for example, made from carboxylic acid salt derived from Columbian coffee, can negate sweet taste. An allosteric modulator can change a food or ingredient's protein structure reducing the salty, sweet or bitter signal to the brain.

When deciding which food additives to use to diminish bitter taste, "formulators must consider differences in regional diets for effective solutions," said Sobel.
-end-
About IFT

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society--more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries--brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.

Institute of Food Technologists

Related Caffeine Articles from Brightsurf:

Caffeine boosts problem-solving ability but not creativity, study indicates
Want to boost creativity? Caffeine may not be the way to go according to a news study by U of A psychologist Darya Zabelina.

Using caffeine as a tool to study information processing
Researchers are using caffeine to study how the brain processes information, and a new study shows the effectiveness of this approach.

More electronic device use tied to more sugar and caffeine in teens
The study, published today in PLOS ONE, found that more than 27% of teens exceed recommended sugar intake and 21% exceed recommended caffeine from soda and energy drinks.

Too much caffeine during pregnancy may damage baby's liver
Having too much caffeine during pregnancy may impair baby's liver development and increase the risk of liver disease in adulthood, according to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology.

Algorithm provides customized caffeine strategy for alertness
A web-based caffeine optimization tool successfully designs effective strategies to maximize alertness while avoiding excessive caffeine consumption, according to preliminary results from a new study.

Caffeine gives solar cells an energy boost
Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Solargiga Energy in China have discovered that caffeine can help make a promising alternative to traditional solar cells more efficient at converting light to electricity.

Caffeine on the mind? Just seeing reminders of coffee can stimulate our brain
A new University of Toronto study finds that just seeing reminders of coffee can arouse us, causing our minds to be more alert and attentive.

More caffeine from coffee associated with decreased rosacea risk
Consuming caffeine from coffee but not from other foods (tea, soda and chocolate) was associated with less risk of rosacea, a common chronic inflammatory skin disease where the skin appears red and flushed.

Caffeine from four cups of coffee protects the heart with the help of mitochondria
A new study shows that a caffeine concentration equivalent to four cups of coffee promotes the movement of a regulatory protein into mitochondria, enhancing their function and protecting cardiovascular cells from damage.

New report suggests three main groups of caffeine sensitivity
Coffee drinkers fall into one of three major groups based on their caffeine sensitivity, according to physician and author Dr J.W.

Read More: Caffeine News and Caffeine Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.