Using a new scanning technique, researchers at University College London, (UCL) have identified flavor molecules that correspond in taste to sweet, sour and bitter or umami taste stimuli.
The 3D laser scanning strategy, known as far-field release profiling, or fl-PM, enables researchers to distinguish sweet, sour and bitter tones in a very large range of sensory stimuli sampled by a single device.
Sequencing of individual molecules and the ‘reading-out’ of odors was conducted at nearly twice the volume of the human tongue and included compounds indicative of aroma, sweet, sour and umami tastes (fumegos and phenols). As such, it is an invaluable tool for qualitative taste research.
Unobstructed recordings of odors were collected from human volunteers and fed into an 8-mm digital camera—designed and engineered by UCL-PhD students, in collaboration with experts at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. The data was then analyzed by sophisticated statistical analyses to generate novel “read-out of odors” curves.
The analyses were based on “read-out curves” that were described as a compensation of taste preferences attributable to odours combined with fratability—a measure of how pleasant or unpleasant an odour is compared to an oral food. Fratability is an environmental dimension that reflects how easily a food is perceived and is directly related to the human body’s sensitivity. In this case, the researchers measured the ability of palatable melon, sour and umami (sour or umami) to imitate the taste of sweet, sour and bitter melon and bitter cucumbers (umami and cucumber).
Dr Lynda Bradley, of UCL’s Centre for Human Taste and Smell, said: “We are very excited by the data that must be extracted from neural stimulation, and used to guide decision-making in an individual. Our findings are still preliminary, and therefore an exciting phase in the development of this novel technology is yet to be explored. It will become a standardized approach to the pursuit of more human taste preferences for the defining taste item groups—perhaps even unnaturally point towards fruit. “