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Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2017-05-31

The reiterative recommendation and regulations to help consumers improve their health by reducing their consumption of free sugar intake (i.e.: World Health Organization 2015, Europea 2006/1924/EU), and the new standards for the formulation, production, labeling and advertising of fruit juices (Europea 2012/12/EU) makes sugar reduction in beverages a demand of manufactures and consumers. Similar regulations than fruit juices are expected soon for soft drinks. Soft drinks have begun to suffer a poor public image because of their high content of sugar or sugar substitutes. It may be possible to avoid or reduce the need to add sugar to fruit juices and soft drinks if we can identify aroma compounds that help the consumer perceive a drink as sweet. Aroma itself is not able to substitute sugars/sweeteners achieving same sweet perception. However, congruent odor can contribute to modulate sweetness in some food/beverages. Understanding the interaction between aromas may allow manufacturers to influence the level of sweetness perceived by the consumer and thereby formulate drinks with less added sugar.

The specific objective of FLAVODRINKS is to identify odor compounds responsible for the sensory properties of fruit juices and soft drinks and analyze how they may affect taste perception, specifically sweet. Fruits juice will be analyzed in order to characterize the main compounds involved in the perception of aroma as sweet. Close attention will be paid to the chirality of identified compounds in order to study structure-aroma relationships by MDGC-O-MS (Multidimensional Gas Chromatography-Olfactometry-Mass-Spectrometry). The ability of aroma compounds to interact with juice odor will also be studied by OLFACTSOSCAN.
This FLAVODRINKS project may help industry to select odours to enhance or supress taste in real food products and it can be a way to reduce sugar and formulate healthy food products.
FLAVODRINKS has developed new methodologies of analysis of volatiles compounds able to enhance sweet perception. These protocols are based on several multidimensional analytical techniques well described in the literature, such as multidimensional gas chromatography mass spectrometry (MDGC-MS), but also techniques much less often applied in the literature, such as OLFACTOSCAN. This project also led to the development of a novel technique called “Gas Chromatography – Odor Associated to Taste” (GC-OAT) to select and identify flavor-associated odorants. The new GC-OAT method, coupled with mass spectrometry, was used to select and identify odorant-induced taste. The novel method developed asking to provide a ‘taste’ attribute to an odour makes a better performance in selecting odorants associated with taste compared than regular GC-O. It is especially interesting to underline that it is very important to select a specific extraction volatile methodology to obtain reliable volatile fingerprint of the beverage. The use of these compounds has the advantage that they were extracted and identified from the same fruit juice or soft drink. Thinking in terms of real food application, this fact may be an advantage for consumer acceptance and labelling, because volatile compounds are natural odours already present in the juices or soft drinks.

In fact, some of FLAVODRINKS results indicate that some odorant are able to enhance sweet perception in soft drinks and juices. These first promising results on sweetness enhancement in beverages makes a way to increase sweetness perception in juices and soft drinks reinforcing these odorants in the beverages in a natural way to reduce the amount of sugar added. The multidimensional approach in this project allowed detailed analysis of structure-activity relationships in compounds linked to sweetness perception. This work has highlighted the importance of stereochemistry: several aroma compounds were found associated to sweetness perception as one enantiomer but not the other which has never been reported before.
FLAVODRINKS was created to help consumers reduce their consumption of sugar and the food industry reduce its use of sugar by studying aromas can, in a sense, replace the need for high amounts of sugar in beverages. Results obtained so far have been promising: they indicate that certain aroma compounds can indeed lead to a perception of sweetness in such beverages. Our results indicate that it is essential to extract as diverse a mixture of volatile compounds as possible in order to identify ones associated with sweetness. A strength of this project is that it identifies aroma compounds naturally existing in the drinks, rather than using “unnatural” aromas from other sources. Compounds able to increase perceived sweetness were identified and characterized using mass spectrometry. FLAVODRINKS extends the state of the art because previous work in this area has relied on only on GC-O but GC-OAT helps to identify compounds that may enhance taste and contrary to our expectations, due to the limitation of the vocabulary (i.e. ‘sweet’, ‘salty’, ‘sour’ or ‘bitter’) is easier to perform than GC-O. Moreover, using unidimensional techniques poorly suited to complex food samples that therefore may have missed important aroma compounds. In contrast, the multidimensional gas chromatography-mass spectrometry approach in FLAVODRINKS was even able to assess the activity of specific enantiomers that enhance perceived sweetness. The expected contribution of FLAVODRINKS is to help the beverage industry develop new juices and soft drinks that contain less sugar and yet have sweet properties more similar to those of fresh juices or existing soft drinks.