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What are Flavours?

11/7/2013 8:28:49 AM | by Anonymous


Flavour is the sensory impression of a type of food or any other substances. It is determined mainly by the chemical senses of taste and smell. The human’s “trigeminal senses” detects chemical irritants in the mouth and throat as well as the texture and temperature. It is very important to the overall gestalt of flavour perception. The flavour of food can then be altered with either artificial or natural flavourants that affect these senses.


Flavourant is defined as a substance that gives the other substance its flavour. Thus, this results in the alteration of the characteristics of the solute that causes it to become tangy, sweet, sour and etc. Of the three chemical senses, smell is the main determinant of the food items’ flavour. While the taste of food is limited to bitter, salty, sweet, umami pungent, sour, piquant and metallic. They are the seven main basic tastes. The smells of a food are then potentially limitless. A food’s flavour therefore can be easily altered by changing its smell while keeping its taste relatively similar.


This cannot be better exemplified than in artificially flavoured soft drinks, candies and flavoured jellies all in which are made up of bases with a similar taste. They also have dramatically different flavours due to the use of their different fragrances and scents. The flavourings of commercially produced food products are typically created by flavourists.


Despite the term “flavouring” in common everyday language denotes the combined chemical sensations of smell and taste, the same terms are usually used in the flavours and fragrance industry that refers to the edible chemicals and extracts that alters the flavour of food and food products through the sense of smell. Also, due to the high cost or unavailability of natural flavour extracts, most of the commercial flavourants are nature identical. This means that they are the chemical equivalents of natural flavours that are chemically synthesized rather than being extracted from the source materials. The identification of nature identical flavourants can be done using technology such as the headspace techniques.


Most companies in the food and beverage companies do not create their own flavours but instead they employ the services of a flavour company. The food and beverages companies may acquire flavours for their new products from the flavour company. This can include change in formulas, product line extensions and processing for existing products.


The flavour creation is done by a specially trained scientist called the “flavourist”. The flavourist’s job combines extensive scientific knowledge of the chemical palette with the artistic creativity in order to develop new and distinctive flavours. The flavour creation begins when the flavourist receives the brief description of the desired flavour from its client. In it, it would communicate the clients’ expectations, the type of flavour they seek, what applications the flavour will be used in, and any special requirements that needs to be taken note of.


The description of the flavours can be quite an obstable to overcome since not many people are good at describing the flavours. The flavourist will then have to use his or her knowledge to deliver the required taste and create the formula with the chemical ingredients. The flavour will then be submitted to the client for testing. Before the flavour is confirmed, several iterations with feedback from the clients may be needed before the right flavour is found.


Additional work may also need to be done by the flavour company. For instance, if the flavour company wants to conduct sensory taste tests to test consumers acceptance of the flavour before it is sent for approval by the client. The flavour company can also employ application specialists who will ensure the flavour to work. This may also require special flavour delivery techniques in order to protect the flavour during the cooking or processing so that the flavour is only released when it is going to be eaten by the end consumer.

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