Taste, Train, Enjoy

Taste, Train, Enjoy is an exciting collaboration between Fifth Sense and our partners FlavorActiV with the aim of enabling people who have suffered impairment of their sense of smell to get more pleasure from food and drink.

The sense of smell contributes a large amount of the overall flavour of food and the impact that olfactory loss has on the enjoyment of eating and drinking is significant.  However, losing one’s sense of smell does not necessarily mean that the sense of taste is also lost.

Taste comes from the sensory papillae, or taste buds, located in the mouth.  The five widely recognised basic tastes are sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.  We’ve spoken to Fifth Sense members who have become aware of how they can use their sense of taste to appreciate differences in food and drink after losing their sense of smell.  FlavorActiV hope to use their considerable experience and expertise in training tasting panels in the beverage industry to help more Fifth Sense members become better aware of their own tasting abilities.

The Impact of Olfactory Loss on Eating and Drinking

Impact of Olfactory Loss

92% of Fifth Sense members say that their enjoyment of food and drink has been reduced

2016 Pilot Study

In 2016 FlavorActiV will embark on a pilot study with Fifth Sense volunteers, working with them over a series of months to train and hopefully improve tasting abilities. Each month volunteers will be sent a pack of flavours to taste (sweet, salt, bitter, sour, umami) and will then  feed their results into an online Taster Validation Scheme. FlavorActiV’s Global Sensory Managers will then review and adjust concentrations of the next round of flavours for each volunteer to aid their individual training pathway.

At the end of the study it is hoped that the volunteers will have improved on or at least categorically ruled out the ability to perceive certain tastes. A follow up meeting will be arranged to provide further support and training, as well as to discuss practical applications of the findings, for instance dietary recommendations.

The findings will also aid the development of a take home Taste Kit and Taste Loss Scale to accurately determine level of taste loss, providing members with essential information to understand their limitations and possibly discover previously unknown tasting abilities.

An example: Basic taste and coffee

It’s probably fair to say that when most people think of coffee, it’s usually the aroma that comes to mind first.  However coffee also contains strong basic taste elements.  Bitterness is the obvious one but sourness, or acidity, and sweetness are also inherent within coffee – and this is before milk or sugar has even been added!

The two expressos in the picture to the left might look identical but they are in fact very different.  One has a high level of acidity with some sweetness and has a sour, almost fruity taste.  The other is much more balanced with more bitterness and less acidity.  We tried them both and even in the  absence of the sense of smell we found they tasted very different.

We hope that through the Taste, Train, Enjoy project we’ll be able to help people who have suffered a loss of their sense of smell to better understand what remaining tasting abilities they possess and how to utilise these, whether that’s when drinking a coffee with a friend or enjoying a meal at home with the family.