Sensory Basis Of Flavor

Flavor can be defined as the combined perception of taste and smell. It involves receptors in both the oral and nasal cavities. In the oral cavity the taste buds are mainly distributed on the surface of the tongue. Each taste bud consists of a barrel-like structure in which the taste cells are packed. Taste receptors, which are found on the surface of the taste cells, are linked to the brain by way of cranial nerves, which carry the nerve impulses to the brain after the neurotransmitters are released from the taste cells. This process is initiated by the formation of the taste compound-receptor complex. Olfactory cells on the other hand are situated in the upper part of the nasal cavity. Their receptors perform a similar function to that of the taste cells through their own nerve fibers, which transmit neural impulses from receptors directly to the olfactory bulb in the brain. There is a common view that there are four primary taste qualities—sweet, sour, bitter and salty—and seven primary odors—camphoraceous, musky, floral, peppermint, ethereal, pungent, and putrid (8).

Sweet Taste

Sweet taste is produced by several different classes of compounds (Fig. 5), such as sugars, polyhydric alcohols, a amino acids, proteins, and synthetic sweeteners.

Sour Taste

Sour taste results from the presence of hydrogen ions on the tongue; however, sourness and acidity (pH) are not directly related, but there is some correlation. Two acids having the same pH do not produce the same degree of response.

Salty Taste

Salt taste is stimulated by most soluble salts having low molecular weights.

Bitter Taste

Three major classes of organic compounds encountered in food materials are associated with bitterness: alkaloids, glycosides (Fig. 6), and peptides.


A taste-related phenomena perceived as a dry feeling in the mouth along with a coarse puckering of the oral tissue,




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