New flavour compound may block bitter tastes

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Flavor, Taste, Sugar

A new compound that blocks bitter tastes, may help to make reduced sugar foods and drinks more palatable for consumers by jamming metallic type bitter tastes, say flavour scientists from Givaudan.

Research presented at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), reported that the discovery of the bitter blocking compound, known as GIV3616, can help to block metallic and ‘off-flavour’ tastes sometimes reported to occur when consumer artificial sweeteners.

The researchers, led by Ioana Ungureanu, senior research scientist with Givaudan Flavours, said the new compound may work well in combination with the recently identified GIV3727 bitterness blocker, to reduce the perception bitter tastes in commercial food and drink products which use artificial sweeteners.

Ungureanu and her team said that the discoveries of GIV3727 and GIV3616 are part of an ongoing revolution in research of flavours and taste.

“There's a strong push from the market to develop healthier products, and reducing calories in beverages is seen as one of the main goals of the food and beverage industry,” ​said Ungureanu.

“Our goal was to introduce new flavours that would reduce bitterness and make artificially sweetened beverages more appealing to the wider public,” ​she added.

Givaudan said that they hope the product will be approved for use as a flavouring by the end of the year.

Not so sweet

Ungureanu and co-workers explained that despite global obesity problems, many consumers continue to avoid healthier low- or no-calorie products, in favour of sweeter, higher calorie equivalents.

One of the main reasons for this, they suggested, is the perception of bitter tasting ‘off-notes’ from artificial sweeteners by many consumers.

In the past, industry has relied on flavour masking agents, such as salt, fat, and sugar to hide such bitter and other unpleasant flavors. However in recent years concerns about the health effects of such ingredients has shifted the focus towards understanding how to block the perception of unpleasant tastes.

Ungureanu and her colleagues said that the recent discovery of GIV3727 – identified using receptor based assay technologies – has led to the first commercially successful bitterness blocker.

They added that using similar high-throughput screening techniques, a new family of bitterness blockers with even higher potency have been discovered.

Bitter blocker

Initial tests suggested that although the new family of blockers were very potent both in vitro​ and in vivo,​ they lacked commercial appeal due to low solubility.

However, Ungureanu said that further optimization studies allowed the research team to identify GIV3616 as a commercial candidate, by “combining not only an optimal organoleptic profile but also drastically improved solubility.”

“This compound was found to reduce bitterness elicited by various sweeteners as well as a wide variety of off-notes, leading to large array of application opportunities in beverage, food, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical applications,”​ said the researchers.

Ungureanu said the new compound is more potent, and can dissolve even quicker than previously identified blockers: “It works at levels on the order of parts per million and blocks flavours using 10 times less material than what was needed previously.”

Applications

“We always develop our products with the final application in mind,”​ explained Ungureanu, adding that a good bitterness blocker needs to have good activity, low toxicity and high solubility at a reasonable price.

In addition the methods for compounds synthesis must be open to up-scaling for industrial, she added.

Related topics: R&D, Flavors and colors

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