This research focuses on the sensory characterization of modified monellin protein (MNEI), extracted from the plant Dioscoreophyllum cumminsii. The specific objective of this study was to determine the detection threshold (DT) and recognition threshold (RT) of MNEI in different conditions typical of beverage processing and beverage consumption. The following effects on DT and RT were evaluated: mineral content, serving temperature of the product, pH and thermal treatment.

A selected panel of 14 assessors evaluated the DT and RT of MNEI by using a modified version of difference from the reference method. Through the modified method, assessors were also asked to give qualitative information about the perceived taste.

MNEI DT and RT were effectively obtained though this modified method. This study confirms that MNEI is a natural high-potency sweetener because the sweet taste RT is about 3,000 times lower than the sweet taste RT of the sucrose measured with the same assessors. Besides, both mineral content and serving temperature affected MNEI DT, whereas pH and thermal treatment did not affect the perceived sweetness. The modified version of difference from the reference method was useful for RT determination.

Practical Application

This study represents the first step of modified monellin protein (MNEI) sensory characterization. Because MNEI is a high-potency sweetener, it could be used in the beverage industry, meeting consumer needs for low-calorie content. Although sweeteners are not consumed at their threshold concentrations, the data in this article are an important scientific contribution to the knowledge of MNEI sensory performance.