Abstract: The impact of elevated levels of complex savory flavorings and single aroma compounds on perceived saltiness was investigated. This study demonstrates that multisensory interaction between aroma and taste can be employed to compensate for the lower salt levels of healthier food products without disturbing the overall flavor pattern. The demonstrated saltiness enhancement by the savory flavorings was unraveled by experiments with “salt-congruent” single aroma compounds, using trained and naïve panels. Several savory compounds, of different chemical classes and different sensory impact, could be identified as key salt-enhancing compounds, providing a significant increase of perceived saltiness. As expected, an untrained, naïve panel appeared more suitable to demonstrate multisensory saltiness enhancement due to its synthetic attention than a trained descriptive panel. The salt enhancement results were confirmed by consumer tests. The extra aroma was also found to ameliorate the off-flavor of potassium-based salt replacers, and combinations of extra aroma and salt replacers could replace significant amounts of sodium chloride while keeping the original flavor profile intact.
Practical Application: The food industry is under high pressure to significantly reduce the salt levels in their products. This study shows that it is possible to compensate salt reduction in instant bouillons by higher levels of savory aroma. A combination of potassium chloride based salt replacer and extra aroma was found to compensate approximately 30% sodium reduction without significant change of the flavor profile.