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Taste Modulators in Food, Beverage Systems

North American Lab Manager, Almendra

Flavors with modulating properties are widely used in the flavor industry to modify or enhance the flavor profile of a flavoring and the food to which it is added, Rob Hastings, North American lab manager for Almendra, told attendees of the 102nd Annual NAFFS Convention. He said new FMPs have been developed to help address consumer desire for healthy food alternatives, including reductions in sugar and salt, without compromising flavor.

FMPs, he said, may not necessarily have or impart a specific characteristic flavor of their own but can modify the flavor profile by altering flavor attributes, such as by intensifying specific flavor characteristics (e.g., perceived fruitiness), reducing specific flavor characteristics, masking of off-notes or bitterness or changing the onset and duration of the perception of specific aspects of the flavor profile.

Stevia-based FMPs, Hastings said, have a dual-functionality as either inherently sweet or salty. “They must be used at or below their sweetness or salt detection threshold,” he said. “Also, they may be stacked with caution — the stack must be at or below detection threshold and is generally not advised,” he added. “You can stack if you do appropriate, qualified sensory testing but such assessment must be made by a duly qualified taste panel in a representative application.”

Hastings said there are two major types of natural Stevia-based FMPs. The first is a Stevia extract, which is miscellaneous leaf-sourced or in some cases, bio-fermented Steviol glycosides and their combinations. Examples include FEMA 4601: Rebaudioside A, FEMA 4720: Rebaudioside C, and FEMA 4895: Rebaudioside M. They offer:

  • Higher sweetness potency
  • Higher costs in use points
  • Lower modulation potential  

The second is fermented Stevia extracts (aka Glucosyl Steviol Glycosides) which are fermented leaf-sourced Stevia extract. Examples Hastings offered were FEMA 4728: Glucosyl Steviol glycosides and FEMA 4845: Glycosylated Steviol glycosides. These offer:

  • Lower sweetness potency
  • High modulation potential
  • Broad application space 
Hastings noted performance issues for GSG applications as well. Not all FEMA 4728 or 4845 flavors are the same, he said. “One may be great in savory and another better in sweet flavors. The identity description is broad enough so that you could actually formulate several different GSGs within one single FEMA number,” Hasting said.

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