Multidimensional measurement of individual differences in taste perception

Sari Puputti, Heikki Aisala, Ulla Hoppu, Mari Sandell (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Individual taste sensitivity has been claimed to affect food consumption and health. The methods used to assess taste sensitivity are various and thus, cause conflicting results. Thresholds, PROP intensity or fungiform papillae density only partly describe taste function. They may not relate to the actual taste perception in food because of compounds, concentration levels, or the measurement levels used. The objective of the study was to measure individual taste function extensively. With hierarchical clustering, we aimed to reveal taste sensitivity groups among people. Another aim was to investigate the associations between taste qualities. In addition, an overall taste sensitivity score was determined to analyze the generalized taste sensitivity.

The sensory study was carried out with Finnish volunteers (N = 205, age 19–79, 80% females). Citric acid, caffeine, sucrose, NaCl, and MSG were used as the prototypic taste compounds. The subjects rated the intensity of five concentration levels of each tastant.

Hierarchical clustering made it possible to analyze the complex data. The results of clustering were distinctive for taste modalities and the number of subjects in the clusters varied. In general, the clusters could be labeled as more sensitive, semi-sensitive, and less sensitive tasters. In bitter and umami tastes one cluster consisted of hyposensitive subjects. The membership in a taste cluster could be partly predicted by the sensitivity to other taste modalities. This study showed that a minority may be hyper- or hyposensitive to all taste modalities. On the other hand, the majority, the semi-sensitive tasters, can be a very heterogeneous group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Volume65
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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