Topic 2.1: Food quality markers

  • Markers associated with the five senses play a crucial role in assessing the quality of food items. For consumers, colour serves as a prominent quality indicator; inadequately browned baked goods or excessively darkened spaghetti are examples of unappealing visual cues. Mold presence typically signals spoilage, necessitating immediate disposal, unless mold is an intended characteristic of the product, such as in certain dairy items.
  • The aroma of food is equally significant, as it stems from specific chemicals that elicit either inviting or repulsive reactions. Aromas evoke immediate perceptions and can leave lasting impressions in the memory. However, quantifying and identifying key olfactory components can be challenging due to varying thresholds of perception.
  • Taste and smell are intertwined with the chemical composition of food, while texture is determined by its microstructure. Microbiological factors, including shelf-life and the use of pre- and probiotic additives, further influence food quality. Additionally, nutritional value is a fundamental consideration.
  • Finally, the emerging field of “Foodomics” integrates metabolomics, genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics to elucidate the functions of metabolites, genomes, mRNA, and proteins in human nutrition. This interdisciplinary approach aims to deepen our understanding of the relationship between food components and their impact on health.

The perception of colour by the human eye has a significant impact on how we perceive the flavour of food.

According to research, we link different flavours with specific food colours, even though flavours like bitter and sweet are not connected to specific colours. The impact of food colour is greater the stronger the flavour/colour relationship. Our sense of flavour and flavour intensity both rise as colour levels do. People who are colour-blind might not be able to distinguish between some foods, and we have trouble correctly identifying foods that are either discoloured or uncoloured. This could make it more difficult for them to evaluate the nutritional value of food and might make it harder for them to appreciate some foods.

https://ppp7.powiat.lublin.pl/do-poczytania-dla-rodzicow-i-nauczycieli/n,165444,jak-ekrany-wplywaja-na-nasz-wzrok.html#

Taste is mostly derived from smell, and flavour is typically a concoction of taste, smell, food temperature, and texture. Taste alerts us to the food’s nutritional value before we eat it. Our sensory systems were modified to recognise and obtain these rare food kinds when our ancestors’ sensory systems evolved in a low-salt, low-fat, and low-sugar environment.

Foods with a sour taste usually contain vitamin C or are unripe fruit. Food with a salty flavour indicated salt and important minerals. Bitter suggested poisonous plants. Savoury umami taste – precious protein. Fatty tastes revealed valuable energy-rich foods. Sweet or sugary tasting substances were valued as they increased body insulin levels that promoted cell growth and were excellent sources of short-term energy, sparing our fat reserves. Researchers found evidence that there is another flavour – that of calcium. This makes sense for our survival, as calcium is vital for cell operations and building bone structure.

https://stock.adobe.com/pl/images/tongue-taste-areas-sweet-bitter-and-salty-tastes-umami-and-sour-taste-receptors-diagram-cartoon-vector-illustration/268551375

Being able to hear the noises of food, including the sizzle and spit of cooking as well as the crackle and crunch as we eat, adds to the satisfaction of eating.

Eating crunchy, crisp meals like potato chips and biscuits enhances the perception of hearing noises. There is evidence that it also affects how we perceive taste and scent.

https://www.kikol.pl/aktualnosci/item/1672-ogloszenie

The ability to feel sensations brought on by an object’s exterior surface (its texture) is provided by the sense of touch. Food texture describes characteristics perceived with the tongue, teeth, palate, and fingertips (sometimes referred to as the “mouth feel”). Jelly feels slippery and slimy because of texture, much as a cookie feels crunchy and chewy.

Food is constantly being assessed as it is being chewed. The force that the teeth, tongue, and jaw apply to the mouthful depends on how easily it dissolves and flows in the mouth. This allows us to categorise it as thick, chewy, brittle, runny, slippery, effervescent, or prickly.

As consumers place greater demands on the food they eat, food texturisation is seen as both a challenge and an increasing opportunity for the food industry. The development of new, innovative textures is seen as a key area when considering new food developments.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-power-of-touch-physical-contact-health_n_3253987

Smell acts in tandem with taste to identify food flavours and helps us to appreciate the enticing aromas of food and drink. Scientists believe that humans naturally like smells that signal valuable nutrients. For example, a fruity smell hints at vitamin C, sugar and energy, while meaty odours suggest iron and B group vitamins.

Research shows a decrease in the number of functional olfactory (smell) genes through primate evolution to humans. During the process of evolution, we moved from an arboreal (tree-dwelling) way of life to a more erect-postured ground-dwelling mode with our noses moving away from the ground and all of its lovely smells! So, our noses became smaller, our jaws less prognathic (jutting forward) and our eyes moved towards the middle of the face, giving greater depth of vision.

https://stylzycia.polki.pl/choroby,sposoby-na-brak-wechu-po-koronawirusie-jak-odzyskac-wech-po-covid-19,10442083,artykul.html