Model tongue helps texture optimisation of low fat foods

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nizo food research, Nutrition

Dutch scientists have developed a new methodology to mimic the actions of the tongue, which could enhance the formulation of low-fat versions with the texture of their high-fat originals.

Developed within the research programme Top Institute Food & Nutrition (TIFN), scientists led by NIZO Food Research’s Harold Bult developed a methodology to provide information into the pressures and shear forces that a food undergoes in the mouth. Differences in the observed mouthfeel of foods can thus be related to the way the food product reacts to pressure and shear.

Reduction of fat in products is a growing area of interest to food manufacturers as consumers continue to seek out low-fat and low-calorie versions of their favourite foods.

However, fats positively contribute to a creamy mouthfeel, to aroma release and to the stability of certain foods. Thus, to create low-fat products that still taste nice, a comprehensive approach is needed that takes these aspects into account.

According to the NIZO food researchers, previous study into how fats contribute to mouthfeel was limited to in vitro​ measurements, which could not factor in the effects of tongue movements.

The new methodology appears to address these issues, by providing real-time spatial profiles of oral behaviour based on movements of the tongue and cheeks during consumption. The model captures the pressure and shear forces that a food undergoes in the mouth, said the researchers.

“By combining this new methodology with existing in vivo measurements on aroma release, we now have an integral approach to determine the optimal aroma and texture properties based on conduct and perception of people during consumption,”​ explained Bult.

Comprehensive information on the complex interactions of taste, aroma and mouthfeel will enable food formulators to development low-fat products that have the same taste experience and reward as the current full-fat products, added Bult.

“Armed with the new knowledge provided by this methodology, we will also learn why promising fat replacers in the past didn’t meet expectations”​ he said.

Food manufacturers may apply the technique to search for ways to reduce fats and also tastants such as sugar and salt in everyday foods while retaining consumer appreciation, said NIZO.

Related topics: Science, Reformulation, Fats & oils

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