to Tongue Town

Tongue Talk

Taste Panels Guide the Development of the Foods We Eat

August 29, 2009, Donald Petty Sr., Research scientist and international snack food manufacturing consultant

Research Taste Panels and Consumer Taste Tests Guide Food Product Development of the Tasty Foods You Buy and Eat

      Major food companies are guided by consumer input. It is cheaper and more
efficient for informative taste testing to be done before products are mass produced and marketed. Good food companies rely on "educated tongues" of trained tasters.
       When companies put products on the market that have not been 'approved' by the consumer the public response may be that they simply do not buy them. The produced but unsold goods are total losses, and represent one of the weaknesses of a company activity that costs the most money.
       The pre-marketed taste panels guide research and development scientists and technicians in their product development. These panels depend on the tasting skills of individuals, usually a minimum of 30 people for statistically accurate results.
       "Statistically significant panel results," an almost 'revered term' in edible product development, make it possible for a researcher to move forward getting a product to market. The panelists are trained, tested, and found to be sensitive to one or more of the basic types of flavors - sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.
       The tongue has areas on its surface, which are sensitive or responsive to these flavors to varying degrees. Some people are more sensitive to the sour notes, some to the salty ones, some to sweet and bitter.
       Some "tongues" are highly sensitive to a number of flavor stimuli. Naturally these are more valuable panelists to a company. Their tongue thus becomes a tool of work, making them better equipped for certain tasks.

        Research has essentially confirmed a newer taste impression to be added to
the above original four. It is termed 'umami' which is the Japanese word for 'yummy.' This taste is one of a beefy-vegetable sensation, significantly unlike the other four.
       The Japanese chemists working on this project determined that the flavor derives its basic impact from glutamic acid. You will likely identify that chemical as the major component in mono-sodium glutamate, yes, MSG, the popular flavor enhancer.
       This delicious new flavor, defined in 2002, has added a new horizon of taste in
the effectiveness and accuracy of taste panel results.


        With foods containing the edible oils it is important to recognize an optimum
oil level for the best (1) taste, (2) 'mouth feel' and (3) tongue-coating properties
imparted by the oil.
       Panelists are trained to detect these three characteristics of oil-bearing foods, as well as the other four, even five. As with the other 'five' taste sensations, oiliness is a desirable quality. Certain panelists are far better than others in detecting the correct oil content of a food, for example, in a potato chip or a corn chip.
       They are trained in the same way for this flavor sensation, that is, by tasting
a series of samples with varying levels of oil in the food and then being able to
distinguish them from each other. The test is validated by their being able to repeat the test duplicating the same results.
       Some food scientists and researchers believe the 'oily taste' should be included as a separate sensory taste, but have yet to agree on the precise area of the tongue that detects oil.

       The more the researcher learns about the perceptions of taste using our very
versatile and extremely important and useful 'tongues,' and the better trained our
food taste panelists become, the more enjoyable our foods will be.

WelcomeTasteTongue OrnamentsCare of the TongueAlternative ApproachesUpload a PhotoHalitosis
Tongue of the MonthTongue TalkFamous TonguesTongues & SpeechUlcersTongue Tricks BlogContact UsLegal Info
290 E. John Carpenter Fwy. | Suite 2700 | Irving, Texas 75062 | Main: 972.255.3712 | Fax: 972.255.5693
©2006 Tongue Town | Site designed and maintained by TNT Dental