THE ORGANOLEPTIC QUALITY OF FOOD

The improvement of the organoleptic characteristics of food can be achieved through the use of additives but also with the use of natural ingredients. In this blog post we will find out how this can be done, which tests the food industry uses to upgrade their products, and which examples of natural ingredients help to improve the organoleptic quality of food.

What are the general properties of food?

Consumers value four groups of food characteristics for their consumption:

  • Sensory or organoleptic characteristics – Colour, taste and smell of the food
  • Physical characteristics – Texture
  • Nutritional characteristics
  • Temporal characteristics – Shelf-life of the food
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What are the organoleptic characteristics of food?

The four main organoleptic characteristics of food are colour, taste, smell and texture. These are characteristics that we perceive through our senses and which are decisive in the first impression of the food that we are going to eat. It is therefore very important to take them into account.

Colour

Colour is key in the consumer’s perception of food. It is the first thing we see and it tells us what chemical reactions have taken place during the shelf-life of the food, from manufacturing to consumption. Colour changes in food can show up due to the exposure to light or air, both catalysts in the biochemical reaction that create peroxides responsible for food oxidations. This oxidation results in colour changes from fresh to spoil.

Colour measurement is an effective thermometer in many cases to determine this type of deterioration.  Techniques such as spectrophotometry or technologies such as Minolta are used to evaluate colour changes and use well-defined scales to compare the colour of both liquid and solid foods.

Taste

Five types of flavours are identified in the food industry: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami. It is also possible to distinguish between slow tastes and immediate tastes.

In general, all substances have a single taste that is made up of several different flavours.

Smell

Odour is defined by the different volatile substances that are present in food that either come from the food itself naturally, or are the result of adding flavouring ingredients into the food.

When a food is spoiled, it is easy to detect it by the smell.

Texture

Texture is definitely another factor to be taken into consideration, since we use our sense of touch to evaluate food’s condition and choose the one that best suits our own preferences. Some parameters for evaluation are hardness, thickness, viscosity or rigidity. The consumer knows how to detect when any of these parameters becomes unpleasant and that is automatically related to a microbiological alteration that results in us avoiding its consumption.

Se muestra cómo unos técnicos comprueban la textura de un embutido

What additives and ingredients does the industry use to boost the organoleptic quality of food?

Substances used by the food industry to boost the organoleptic quality of food can be divided into two groups: artificial additives and natural ingredients.

Ingredients such as spices, in the same way as salt for preservation or vinegar to extend the shelf-life of food, have properties that improve the organoleptic quality of food.

For example rosemary extract, which not only ensures the flavour and colour of food but also provides aroma and works as an antioxidant. Others such as basil, parsley, oregano or dill enhance flavours, while saffron, turmeric or curry modify the colour while providing food a special aroma and flavour. Other spices provide even more intense flavours, such as pepper or chilli that give a spicy vibe to our food. Many fruits and vegetables also improve the organoleptic characteristics of food thanks to their high pigmentation. Beetroot or blueberries provide more intense tones, while bananas, dates or figs substitute sugars for sweetness.

How to analyse the organoleptic qualities of food in order to know its quality?

We can determine the organoleptic quality of foods by means of many tests to get an idea of their characteristics. One of the most decisive factors in testing is perception, which is evaluated by thresholds. A threshold is the value at which the effects of a stimulus become perceptible to the senses. This threshold is made from the active ingredients in the food within the organoleptic scope. There are several thresholds of perception:

  • The detection threshold, the minimum amount of an odorant to be detected.
  • The recognition threshold is the level of a stimulus needed not only to be detected but also recognized.
  • The differential threshold is the magnitude of change in the stimulus necessary to generate an alteration that is perceptible.
  • The terminal threshold is the maximum value of a stimulus above which an increase in intensity is not perceived.

Perception is the response to organoleptic characteristics. It is therefore a true reflection of food quality that the food industry uses to evaluate consumers. The trend analysis for this evaluation are carried out by quality technicians with different backgrounds such as nutritionists, chemists and engineers. In order to determine the organoleptic quality of a foodstuff, the so-called organoleptic analysis or tasting panels are also carried out. These are qualitative expert assessments based on the evaluation of a sample through the senses. The senses involved in organoleptic analysis are sight, smell, taste and touch, and this analysis is subjective in any case.

How to improve the organoleptic characteristics of food by using natural ingredients?

At Amerex we are always committed to natural ingredients as preservative solutions, which not only help to improve the shelf-life of foodstuffs but also their organoleptic properties.

We have a wide range of ripening starters that through enzymatic activities of microorganisms are able to generate a good colour, flavour and aroma in the sausage. In addition, preservative solutions that maintain the organoleptic condition of the food during its shelf-life. Or even solutions based on yeast technology to provide specific and traditional organoleptic characteristics to the final product.

Replacing chemical additives with natural ingredients is possible, and it also means an upgrade in those products that consumers are increasingly demanding. The clean label philosophy is here to stay, and many manufacturers are committed to meeting the needs of a more demanding end customer.

Contact us to find out about our products that can fit in any food, from meat to vegan products, dairy, fish, ready meals, beverages and sauces or bakery products. We are available for you!

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