Get access

INTERACTION OF GUAIACOL AND METHYL SALICYLATE IN BINARY MIXTURE SIGNIFICANTLY LOWERS PERCEPTUAL THRESHOLD IN HUMAN OBSERVERS

Authors

  • WENDY M. YODER,

    1. Program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, 114 Psychology Building, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611
    Search for more papers by this author
  • SETH W. CURRLIN,

    1. Program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, 114 Psychology Building, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611
    Search for more papers by this author
  • ALLISON LARUE,

    1. Program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, 114 Psychology Building, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611
    Search for more papers by this author
  • KRISTINA M. FERNANDEZ,

    1. Program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, 114 Psychology Building, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611
    Search for more papers by this author
  • DAJIA KING,

    1. Department of Biology, Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, GA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • DAVID W. SMITH

    Corresponding author
    1. Program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, 114 Psychology Building, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611
    2. Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
    3. Plant Innovation Program, Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences
    4. Center for Smell and Taste, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
    Search for more papers by this author

TEL: 352-273-2152; FAX: 352-392-7985; EMAIL: dwsmith@ufl.edu

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Throughout the field of food chemistry, attempts to reconstruct the characteristic flavor of the tomato have remained a persistent challenge. Although the established method for analyzing tomato volatiles has focused on calculating odor thresholds for a single compound against a basic water background, the current study sought to demonstrate the influence of volatile interactions on perceptual threshold by comparing thresholds for a volatile alone and in the presence of another volatile. Thresholds were compared for methyl salicylate and guaiacol alone and in a 50/50 binary mixture. While the traditional method does not regard guaiacol as contributing significantly to the overall flavor of the tomato, results demonstrated an interaction effect, such that threshold concentrations for mixtures were consistently lower than thresholds reported separately for either methyl salicylate or guaiacol alone, with subjects displaying increased sensitivity (additivity) to a solution comprised of both chemicals. Further research will be needed to thoroughly investigate the underlying mechanisms responsible for such effects, but the results demonstrate that perithreshold and subthreshold volatiles can potentially have a measurable impact on odor perception.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

Given the persistent complaints surrounding the flavor of contemporary tomatoes, researchers within the field of food science have continued to make rigorous attempts to improve the overall taste and percept of the standard supermarket tomato. While emphasis has previously focused predominantly on storage, handling and esthetic appeal, priorities are beginning to shift, with consumers more readily requesting the sought after flavor of fresh, heirloom tomatoes. As a consequence, many scientists are undertaking the challenge of studying and manipulating the proportion of plant volatiles thought to be responsible for promoting the characteristic flavor of the tomato fruit, but to fully understand the impact of such volatiles, the issue of retronasal olfaction must be considered. The current research discusses how two such volatiles are capable of interacting at the level of the nose, thereby potentially altering the taste. Hopefully, future researchers will be able to incorporate such olfactory psychophysics techniques into testing panels, thereby providing a more thorough examination of consumer perception.

Ancillary