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Food-name labels may influence taste perception


A research team from the National Food Research Institute,Tsukuba, Japan investigated how non-gustatory senses might influence taste perception by labelling aqueous taste solutions with familiar, pleasant sounding names.


Forty six Japanese university students participated in the study, all of whom reported having a normal sense of taste. They were randomly assigned to one of two groups: food name label (FL) and control (CL. Aqueous taste solutions using the 5 basic tastes were prepared: sucrose (sweet), sodium chloride (salty), tartaric acid (sour), quinine sulphate (bitter) and monosodium glutamate (savoury/umami).  According to the authors, they then constructed a sample pool consisting of 211 taste samples containing 1 to 5 of the basic tastes in all possible combinations, each with 2 intensity levels.  All samples were given recognisable food names, and after evaluation 4 food names and 10 taste samples were selected.   The food names were "lemon," "coffee jelly," "caramel candy," and "consomme soup."


Results showed that the participants who tasted samples with food-name labels rated tastes with significantly higher liking and familiarity scores than those presented with random numbers, especially when the names and tastes were perceived as being congruent. Though an effect on perceived intensity was not as prominent, cases were observed in which intensity ratings were significantly changed.

In their summary, Okamoto et al. claim that this study provides the first experimental evidence that identity information given as names also influence the perception of unimodal basic tastes. (Chemical Senses, 2009, 34 : 187-194; doi:10.1093/chemse/bjn075).



Fuente: RSSL Food e-news (18/02/2009)