Trigeminal Stimulus Menthol Masks Bitter Off-Flavor of Artificial Sweetener Acesulfame-K

Kai Büchner, Jana Haagen, Ashtri Sastrosubroto, Roland Kerpes, Jessica Freiherr, Thomas Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Consumer health concerns and regulatory policies lead to a growing demand for sugar-sweetened beverage alternatives. A reduced energy content can be achieved using artificial sweeteners, which often also convey a metallic or bitter off-flavor. Therefore, the alteration of sweetness perception and masking of potential off-flavors are paramount for improving sweet beverages. Trigeminal stimuli, such as capsaicin (spicy) or menthol (cooling), have been used to influence taste perception in food items, although their use in beverages has not yet been systematically investigated. Here, the influence of menthol on sweetness perception in an aqueous solution is examined both on the sensory and psychophysiological level. The addition of menthol had no sensory effect on sweetness perception; however, psychophysiological measurements suggest a boost in the physiological response to cold perception through the addition of sugar. Moreover, menthol addition shifted the recognition threshold of unpleasant bitterness of the sweetener acesulfame-K from 21.35 to 36.93 mg/L, masking the off-flavor. These findings illuminate the complexity of trigeminal perception influences on taste. Further investigation of these effects can render trigeminal stimuli an effective tool to enhance beverage aroma and flavor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2734
JournalFoods
Volume11
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Keywords

  • artificial sweetener
  • menthol
  • nervus trigeminus
  • off-flavor
  • psychophysiology

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