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Keywords:

  • acids;
  • flavor;
  • receptor;
  • sensory;
  • transduction

ABSTRACT:  Sour taste is the key element in the flavor profile of food acidulants. Understanding the chemistry and physiology of sour taste is critical for efficient control of flavor in the formulation of acid and acidified foods. After a brief introduction to the main applications of food acidulants, several chemical parameters associated with sour taste are discussed. Special emphasis is given to hydrogen ions, protonated (undissociated) acid species, titratable acidity, anions, molar concentration, and physical and chemical properties of organic acids. This article also presents an overview of the physiology of sour taste and proposed theories for the transduction mechanisms for sour taste. The physiology of sour taste perception remains controversial and significant diversity exists among species with regard to cellular schemes used for detection of stimuli. The variety of mechanisms proposed, even within individual species, highlights the complexity of elucidating sour taste transduction. However, recent evidence suggests that at least one specific sour taste receptor protein has been identified.