Effect of cross-cultural differences on thickness, firmness and sweetness sensitivity

Eva C. Ketel, René A. de Wijk, Cees de Graaf, Markus Stieger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sensitivity of the somatosensory system may be influenced by multiple physiological parameters. Variations in oral physiology can arise from cross-cultural differences which may potentially affect sensory sensitivity. The aim of this case study was to quantify texture and taste sensitivity in Dutch (Caucasian) and Chinese (Asian) adults living in the Netherlands. Eighty-five healthy subjects were recruited including 44 Dutch (Caucasian) adults (29 females, 22.8 ± 2.3 yrs) and 41 Chinese (Asian) adults (30 females, 24.5 ± 2.1 yrs) living in the Netherlands for less than 1 year. Three sets of stimuli were used to quantify sensitivity of thickness (maltodextrin solutions differing in viscosity), firmness (agar gels differing in fracture stress) and sweetness (sucrose solutions differing in concentration). The 2-Alternative Forced Choice (2-AFC) ascending staircase method was used to determine texture and taste sensitivity. Unstimulated and stimulated saliva flow rate, fungiform papillae density (FPD), lingual tactile threshold and PROP taster status were determined and are referred to as physiological and sensory consumer characteristics. No significant differences were observed between Chinese and Dutch adults for thickness (Dutch 2.60 mPas, Chinese 2.19 mPas), firmness (Dutch 10.5 kPa, Chinese 10.3 kPa) and sweetness sensitivity (Dutch 0.012 g/mL, Chinese 0.017 g/mL). No significant differences were observed between Chinese and Dutch adults for saliva flow rate, lingual tactile threshold and PROP taster status. The relationships between the three sensory sensitivities (thickness, firmness, sweetness) and five physiological and sensory consumer characteristics (unstimulated and stimulated saliva flow rate, FPD, lingual tactile threshold, PROP taster status) were analyzed. Only one out of 15 relationships, firmness sensitivity and FPD, was significantly and weakly related suggesting that inter-individual variation in these consumer characteristics is almost unrelated to sensory sensitivity. We conclude that in this case study thickness, firmness and sweetness sensitivities do not differ between Dutch and Chinese adults living in the Netherlands. Saliva flow rate, fungiform papillae density, lingual tactile threshold and PROP taster status do not explain inter-individual variation in sensory sensitivity between these consumers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109890
JournalFood Research International
Volume152
Early online date10 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Cross-cultural
  • Ethnicity
  • Fungiform papillae density
  • Lingual tactile threshold
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Texture and taste threshold

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