The Importance of Taste
Authors: Annika Wessels, Markus Krieger, Quality Services International GmbH, Bremen, Germany
In sensory the human senses are used
for testing and measuring purposes.
The methodology used in this process is
called "sensory analysis". Defined methods
are used to analyse the sensory quality
of foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, textiles
and household products. A uniform, defined
language among the testers is an essential
prerequisite for mutual understanding
among the testers. Table 1 shows the different
types of testers for sensory analysis.
All those testers use their five senses
when examining food. These five senses are:
All these senses are involved in the consumption
of food. Thus, the following characteristics
are perceived and evaluated when
food is consumed:
• Visual appearance (e.g., colour, shape).
• Tactile sensation
• Texture, consistency
Appearance, smell and taste play a major role
in consumer acceptance. Consumers decide
whether or not to buy a product based on
its appearance, especially in the supermarket.
The impression of colour evokes associations
with freshness or spoilage, variety,
degree of ripeness, quality, and enjoyability.
Thus, the sense of vision protects against the
consumption of spoiled food. But smell and
taste are also decisive factors. The smell in
particular provides consumers with information
about the freshness and integrity of food.
Thus, the sense of smell is part of the warning
system of living things. Foul odours indicate
progressive or health-threatening spoilage.
Laymen/consumers Untrained testers, who make a statement about the test
specimen on the basis of the sensory impressions they perceive
selected examiners Test person who has demonstrated his or her suitability for
carrying out sensory tests
sensory expert Selected examiners who are trained according to DIN EN ISO
8586 for sensory analysis, they have specific experience and
appropriate performance with regard to sensory testing
The taste is perceived by receptors on the
human tongue. Humans have receptors for five
basic flavours, which are: sweet, sour, salty,
bitter and umami. When food is consumed
the taste is usually accompanied by smell.
Odour-active volatile compounds are perceived
via the sense of smell. In total, humans can perceive
more than 10 000 odorants.
Odour perception takes place at the olfactory
epithelium (see Figure 1), where 3 - 50
million olfactory receptors are located. Volatile
aroma substances reach the receptors either
orthonasally, via the nasal cavity, or retronasally,
indirectly via the mouth and nasal pharynx.
Since the mouth and throat are connected
with each other smell and taste are perceived
almost simultaneously when consuming food.
A well-known example is the chewing of chewing
gum. Chewing a chewing gum releases volatile
compounds, which travel retronasally to the
olfactory receptors on the olfactory epithelium
and are perceived there as "taste", but it is actually
a retronasal olfactory impression (see Figure 1).
Only the five basic tastes are referred to as taste.
The last two senses are touch and hearing.
By touch we can feel the consistency, viscosity,
structure and texture of food. By hearing we
can perceive acoustic impressions, which we
Table 1: different type of testers
Figure 1: Cross section of
human nose 5
20 Sensory Analysis