Tropical assistance

by Jeff Gelski
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Tropical flavors like mango and passion fruit may add exotic flair and complex fruit notes to foods and beverages, and they also potentially may assist in masking unwanted flavors.

“These tropical flavors tend to be complex flavors, and we find complex flavors seem to mask better,” said Donna Rosa, senior director of the consumer health business unit for Symrise, which has an office in Teterboro, N.J. “A cherry is a very simple flavor. Tropical flavors are more complicated as far as their flavor structure.”

She gave passion fruit as an example of a tropical fruit that has different flavor notes.

Tropical fruit flavors especially may provide masking assistance in applications with B vitamins. Tropical fruits, particularly mango, tend to have a sulfur taste, as do B vitamins, Ms. Rosa explained.

Mango and B vitamins both appear in a new Super Protein Mango smoothie from Odwalla, Half Moon Bay, Calif., a Coca-Cola Co. business unit. Each 12-oz bottle provides 150% of the Daily Value of vitamins B12 and B6 along with 20 grams of soy protein and 50% of the Daily Value of calcium. Ingredients include apple juice, mango puree, orange juice and banana puree.

According to the 2011 IFIC Functional Foods/Foods for Health Consumer Trending Survey, 86% of Americans are aware that B vitamins support overall health and well-being. The survey also found expense and taste are Americans’ top two perceived barriers for the consumption of functional foods.

Masking unwanted flavors may address the taste issue.

“Formulating healthy altern-atives that also satisfy consumers’ taste expectations requires that we cover up and correct the unfamiliar or unpleasant tastes and smells that often result from alternative ingredients,” said Agneta Weisz, vice-president of Flavors and Technologies at Comax Flavors, Melville, N.Y. “The overall key to flavor modification is to keep all factors in harmony and make sure that no one flavor note stands out in an unexpected way.”

Tropical flavors may provide some synergies with other masking agents, Ms. Rosa said. Masking unwanted flavors remains a work in progress and a customized approach.

“The past couple of years is when most of the masking work has been developed,” Ms. Rosa said. “We’ve been discovering what works and what doesn’t work in masking.”

Some off flavors are easier to mask than others.

“In caffeine, it’s just bitter,” Ms. Rosa said. “We have something that blocks that.”

Stevia-based sweeteners pres-

ent a more complex task, she said. Formulators may be dealing with a late onset, a metallic aftertaste and/or bitterness. The purity, including the Rebaudioside A content, of the stevia extract will have an effect on how much, or how little, flavor masking is needed.

Ms. Weisz of Comax Flavors said, “The sweetness of stevia has a slow onset and a somewhat green and lingering licorice aftertaste. A natural stevia-masking flavor can bring the sweetness forward and cover the unpleasant finish.”

Stevia extracts are seeing more use in foods and beverages. According to The Nielsen Co., sales of products promoted for stevia content in U.S. supermarkets reached $429 million in the 52 weeks ended June 11, which marked a 51% increase from $285 million in the previous 52-week period.

Ways to adjust flavors in products with stevia are growing. Wixon Inc., St. Francis, Wis., offers Mag-nifique for Stevia that reduces a lingering aftertaste. Flavor modifiers in the Mag-nifique line may be used to reduce saltiness, sourness, bitterness, astringency and metallic notes. They also may enhance sweetness, tartness, umami and savory notes.

Wild Flavors Inc., Erlanger, Ky., has commercialized a line of taste modifiers and sweetness enhancers for use with stevia extracts. The modifiers and enhancers may be labeled as “natural flavors.” The line allows for a reduction of up to 30% of nutrient sweeteners, which reduces costs.

“Flavor enhancers are utilized to round out the sweetness profile while eliminating the off-notes,” said Greg Horn, senior director of sweetener technology for Wild Flavors.

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