Rockville, Maryland, February 1, 2022 – While the amounts of carbohydrates and other sweet-tasting ingredients in foods can be exactly measured, a recent review of studies published in the Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL (JAOAC) found that there are no available methods to analytically measure sweet taste.
The inability to objectively measure sweet taste may impact regulation of sweetness of products like follow-up formula, a drink with added nutrients for young children aged 6-36 months.
AOAC INTERNATIONAL (AOAC)’s ad hoc Expert Panel on Sweetness examined challenges in measuring sweet taste in food for regulatory compliance and based on its findings, developed recommendations and a comprehensive opinion paper on the complex nature of measuring sweetness. The JAOAC paper notes that international scientists lack a credible basis for objectively documenting sweet taste in follow-up formula drinks.
“Sweet taste can be determined by standard sensory analysis methods. However, it is impossible to define a sensory intensity reference value for sweetness,” according to the authors of the paper.
The paper, “The Challenge of Measuring Sweet Taste in Food Ingredients and Products for Regulatory Compliance: A Scientific Opinion,” was co-authored by 19 researchers, including the Director of Science Programs at the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS), Marie Latulippe.
Based on the paper’s findings and recommendations, the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) agreed to inform authorities that there are no known validated methods to measure sweetness of carbohydrate sources. As a result, there is “no way to determine compliance for such a requirement for follow-up formula,” the paper says.
“The findings in this paper are significant because they highlight the complexities surrounding sweetness assessment and the limitations of current standard sensory methods to adequately support broad international regulatory and policy decisions for foods and beverages,” said Palmer Orlandi, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Science Officer at AOAC.
“This paper also recognizes the challenges that must be overcome in developing an analytical application that can precisely and objectively evaluate the combinatorial contributions of all factors that influence sweetness,” Orlandi added.
IAFNS’ Marie Latulippe notes that sensory science is challenging in this area as the accepted approach for evaluating taste is to use a panel of individuals specifically trained for this purpose.
The paper is scheduled for publication in the March/April 2022 JAOAC issue; the pre-publication manuscript is available to AOAC members at https://doi.org/10.1093/jaoacint/qsac005.
About AOAC INTERNATIONAL
AOAC INTERNATIONAL is a globally recognized, 501(c)(3), independent, third party, not-for-profit association and voluntary consensus standards developing organization founded in 1884. When analytical needs arise within a community or industry, AOAC INTERNATIONAL is the forum for finding appropriate science-based solutions through the development of microbiological and chemical standards. The AOAC Official Methods of Analysis database is used by food scientists around the world to facilitate public health and safety and to promote trade. For more information, visit www.aoac.org.
The Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS) is committed to leading positive change across the food and beverage ecosystem. IAFNS is a 501(c)(3) science-focused nonprofit uniquely positioned to mobilize government, industry, and academia to drive, fund and lead actionable research. For more information, visit iafns.org.
Katie Bergmann, AOAC Communications Manager
Steven Gibb, IAFNS Science Communications Manager