Sound is important sensory factor to food enjoyment

by Mindy Weinstein

The sound a food makes when it's consumed is one of the most important sensory factors that influence whether a consumer will enjoy it or not. In the December issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), IFT Fellow, Neil H. Mermelstein writes about the process of sound-testing the textures of different foods as well as recent developments in the sensory industry.

Charles Spence, professor, Department of Experimental Psychology at University of Oxford found through several experiments that consumers' perception of the crispiness of can be affected by modifying the sounds produced as they bite them. Spence sees future interest in matching soundscapes and music to flavors and texture experiences.

Recently researchers at NIZO Food Research developed a system for measuring the sounds a makes as it rubs against the tongue and palate during consumption. The advantage of this technology is that it measures sound where the consumer chews. Researcher George A. Van Aken, PhD, Senior Scientist at NIZO said that the technology was originally developed to study how much emulsified fat contributes to a creamy mouthfeel. For example the addition of cream to coffee increases the lubrication and therefore reduces the sound in the mouth. The technology has also been used to research products like water, milk, yogurt, cheese, coffee, creamer, tea, wine, vinegar, butter, margarine, , banana, nuts, biscuits, honey and soft drinks.

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