Cross-modal sensory integration plays a key role in food flavor perception and acceptance during consumption. The current study investigated the effect of a butter odor, delivered at various stages of the oral processing cycle, on modulating the sensory properties of cheese. Twenty healthy volunteers (aged between 25 and 29 years, 12 women) were measured for their detection thresholds for the butter odor. In the sensory evaluation sessions, participants chewed and swallowed three types of cheese (low-fat, 20% fat content, LF; a medium-fat, 30% fat content, MF; high-fat, 40% fat content, HF, served in 16 × 16 × 12 mm3 cubes) while the butter odor was presented ortho- and retronasally in two concentrations at various points of the oral processing cycle. After swallowing, participants rated on a visual analogue scale for the intensities of cheese creaminess, butter note, overall flavor, and the pleasantness for cheese texture. Enhancement of added butter odor on perceived sensory attributes differed as a function of the delivery routes and timings. Creaminess intensity increased significantly when butter odor presented retro-nasally at the start of chewing. Butter note was enhanced when the retro-nasal odor was added during chewing. The texture pleasantness was increased with ortho-nasal odor presentation. In addition, for the creaminess intensity and texture liking enhancement, the observed effects were more pronounced with butter odor presentation at the lower concentration. Taken together, these findings suggested the importance of temporal congruency for cross-modal sensory enhancement in food flavor perception. The findings help to better understand flavor perception during oral processing of solid food and add value for future development of foods with nutritional benefits.
- Cross-modal sensory enhancement