Theoretical Note: Tests of Synergy in Sweetener Mixtures

Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
Chemical Senses (Impact Factor: 3.16). 09/1998; 23(4):447-51. DOI: 10.1093/chemse/23.4.447
Source: PubMed


Some methods for examining the additivity of sweeteners, and their synergy in mixtures depend upon setting component concentrations on the basis of sweetness equivalence, usually to a sucrose reference. These methods may under- or over-predict the sweetness of a mixture, leading to spurious claims of synergy or mixture suppression. This paper points out one problem with one such popular method, in that the method can lead to a conclusion that a substance would synergize with itself. To the extent that self-synergy is an illogical conclusion for a mixture comparison, such a method should be avoided in tests of synergy. The sweetness equivalence approach is contrasted with a simpler approach based on concentrations that does not lead to conclusions of self-synergy.

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    • "In addition, the current results provide more definitive support for previous hints that synergy might occur (e.g., Laska et al. 1990; Laska and Hudson 1991; Ito and Kubota 2005). Clear synergy has been demonstrated in taste, namely, synergy between the savory (umami) taste of monosodium glutamate and certain 5#-ribonucleotides and between some sweet compounds (Yamaguchi 1967; Rivkin and Bartoshuk 1980; Lawless 1998). Synergy may be uncommon in the chemical senses, but we can now say with greater confidence that it occurs in olfaction, as well as taste. "
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    ABSTRACT: Laboratory demonstrations of synergistic mixture interactions in human odor perception have been rare. The current study examined perithreshold mixture interactions between maple lactone (ML) and selected carboxylic acids. An air-dilution olfactometer allowed precise stimulus control. Experimenters measured stimulus concentrations in vapor phase using a combination of solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. A probability of detection versus concentration, or a psychometric, functions was measured for pure ML. Psychometric functions were also measured for ML with the addition of fixed, subthreshold concentrations of carboxylic acids. Relative to statistical independence in detection, clear synergy occurred over a range of ML concentrations. To the best of our knowledge, the current results constitute the first clear demonstration of synergy in odor detection by humans from an experiment that combined precise stimulus control, vapor-phase calibration of stimuli, and a clear statistical definition of synergy.
    Full-text · Article · May 2008 · Chemical Senses
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    • "Thus, that maltol is not itself sweet, but it enhances sweet ratings of sucrose in untrained adults (Bingham et al. 1990) is not surprising. Various models for studying interactions are found in taste (Lawless 1998; Laffort 2006), pharmacology (Hughes et al. 1990; Minto et al. 2000), and toxicology (Feron and Groten 2002). Here, a straightforward algebraic sum of sensations model was used to test for perceptual interactions (Schifferstein and Frijters 1993) in milk samples that varied in the amount of fat and sucrose. "
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic variation in oral sensation presumably influences ingestive behaviors through sensations arising from foods and beverages. Here, we investigated the influence of taste phenotype [6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) bitterness, fungiform papillae (FP) density] on sweet and creamy sensations from sugar/fat mixtures. Seventy-nine subjects (43 males) reported the sweetness and creaminess of water or milk (skim, whole, heavy cream) varying in sucrose (0-20% w/v) on the general Labeled Magnitude Scale. Sweetness grew with sucrose concentration and when shifting from water to milk mixtures--the growth was greatest for those tasting PROP as most bitter. At higher sucrose levels, increasing fat blunted the PROP-sweet relationship, whereas at lower levels, the relationship was effectively eliminated. Perceived sweetness of the mixture exceeded that predicted from the sum of components at low sucrose concentrations (especially for those tasting PROP most bitter) but fell below predicted at high concentrations, irrespective of fat level. Creaminess increased greatly with fat level and somewhat with sucrose. Those tasting PROP most bitter perceived greater creaminess in the heavy cream across all sucrose levels. Perceived creaminess was somewhat lower than predicted, irrespective of PROP bitterness. The FP density generally showed similar effects as PROP on sweetness and creaminess, (but to a lesser degree) and revealed potential taste-somatosensory interactions in weakly sweet stimuli. These data support that taste phenotype affects the nature of enhancement or suppression of sweetness and creaminess in liquid fat/sugar mixtures. Taste phenotype effects on sweetness and creaminess likely involve differential taste, retronasal olfactory, and somatosensory contributions to these perceptual experiences.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2007 · Chemical Senses
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    • "A rule that satisfies both concepts is that either taste enhancement or synergism exists if the total perceived taste intensity of a mixture is beyond the level predicted by the psychophysical combination of the two substances. In such a combination the slopes of both psychophysical functions are taken into account (Bartoshuk and Cleveland, 1977; Rifkin and Bartoshuk, 1980; Lawless, 1998). "
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    ABSTRACT: Neohesperidin dihydrochalcone (NHDC) is an intensive sweetener, obtained by alkaline hydrogenation of neohesperidin. In this investigation a supposed taste enhancing effect of this substance was tested. A three-step procedure was used. In the first experiment, using a pool of 31 subjects, NHDC and sucrose detection thresholds were measured. In the second experiment, psychophysical functions for both tastants were determined. Then, 15 participants closest to the group threshold who, in addition, had produced monotonic psychophysical taste functions were selected to participate in the next two experiments. In the third experiment, taste enhancement was tested. Three psychophysical sucrose functions were constructed, one with a near-threshold amount of NHDC added to each of seven sucrose concentrations, one with a near-threshold amount of sucrose added (control 1) and one without any addition (control 2). No difference was found between the NHDC-enriched sucrose function and the sucrose-enriched sucrose function. Finally, in experiment 4, differential threshold functions were constructed with either NHDC or sucrose added. Neither the overall shape of the functions nor a comparison of the points of subjective equality showed enhancement. It was concluded that weak NHDC does not enhance the taste of aqueous sucrose solutions.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2000 · Chemical Senses
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