Smooth bite for all

21 October 2017 – Since February last year, six PhD students of Wageningen University have been investigating how eating and drinking behaviour is influenced by age, gender and ethnicity and how this influences sensory perception. Some of the PhD projects aim to elucidate the role of oral physiology and food bolus properties in eating behaviour and sensory perception in different consumer segments.

The PhD candidates are involved in the ‘Smooth bite for all’ TiFN project. Markus Stieger (Wageningen University) is the project leader: “Many foods that are highly liked are composed of multiple components with considerably different mechanical properties, for example cookies filled with cream or a slice of bread with cheese. The mechanical contrast between the components might lead to contrasting texture sensations, which have been suggested to enhance palatability of foods. Texture contrast can make generally well-liked foods even more liked. Mechanical contrasts can be caused by inhomogeneity in food structure at different length scales. The combination of components with contrasting mechanical properties in composite foods results in complex oral food breakdown behaviour and dynamic texture perception. Our current understanding of the sensory perception of those composite foods is limited.”

The project started last year and the first promising results have been obtained. Stieger: “With the trending topics of healthy, ageing population, growing markets in Asia and personalized nutrition, effective food texture design for target consumer groups is required. Based on insights generated by the project, food industry can develop products that are targeted towards specific consumer groups such as the elderly.”