Overcoming the Taste Stigma of Soy


  • The author would like to thank the Attorney General and the Illinois Council for Agricultural Research for their support of this project.


ABSTRACT: Can labels unknowingly influence a person's taste perceptions? Using a “phantom ingredient” taste test, the presence or absence of a labeled ingredient (soy) was shown to influence sensory evaluations of a food. In particular, a nutrition bar wrongly purporting to contain soy generated negative ratings of taste, aftertaste, and attitude, yet generated favorable ratings of its nutritiousness. Because there was actually no soy in the product, these differences represent biases caused by ingredient labeling. Given the appropriate segment of consumers (health-oriented), ingredient labeling may have more favorable consequences. This power of suggestion might also be expanded to other ingredients or processes, such as those involving biotechnology or organic production.