Modelling optimises flavours

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Taste Sodium Flavor

Modelling optimises flavours
Research will allow equipment makers to design snack machines for better flavours

Snack equipment manufacturers will soon be able to redesign their machinery to cut salt content without altering the flavour of their products, thanks to £750,000 of government-supported research coming to an end in September.

Three years of collaborative work carried out at Birmingham and Nottingham universities has resulted in new mathematical models supported by pilot trials, which will enable the equipment used for adding flavours to snacks to be set up for maximum flavour and aroma release.

The potential benefits of the work are significant, said Professor Andy Taylor of the Flavour Research Group at Nottingham University. "You can start to design the system to get what you want."

Describing the findings of the Advanced Food Manufacturing Link project (AFM 187) at a recent seminar organised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Taylor said the research studied the adhesion of flavour particles in fat coatings on the surface of snacks with the aim of reducing the high losses typical in snack production. "The challenge is to formulate and deliver flavour to consumers to get the best taste, but with minimal salt."

Birmingham worked on optimising the design of equipment, such as rotating drums used to add flavours to snacks, to reduce waste. Other work looked at the adhesion of flavour particles and flavour loss using Hula Hoops tethered in a pilot vibratory conveyor rig.

Nottingham concentrated on the mechanism of salt release on the tongue using a specially designed flexible sodium ion electrode placed in the subject's mouth. "This measures what's hitting the tongue where you sense the salt - what people actually experience, rather than what's in the product," said Taylor. The research also looked at the interaction between salt and flavour particles and the effects of different forms of salt on flavour perception and aroma release.

The project also involved industrial partners United Biscuits, Flavours Direct and equipment supplier KMG Systems.

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