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J Nutr. 2000 Apr;130(4S Suppl):915S-20S.

Function and importance of glutamate for savory foods.

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  • 1Nestle R & D Center Kemptthal, CH-8310 Kemptthal, Switzerland and Faculty of Science, Laboratory of Organic Chemistry of the University of Lausanne, CH-1000 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Flavoring systems are of vital importance in savory food manufacturing. Many industrially prepared foods are particularly attractive to potential consumers primarily because of their typical flavors. Therefore, it is no surprise that the food industry dealing with these product segments shows great interest in the use of food or food ingredients carrying the typical umami taste and flavor enhancement systems. Figures are provided showing the importance of glutamate in traditional cuisines and also in meals prepared by industrial manufacturing. It is also interesting to see how food intake patterns of glutamate differ from one cultural group to another. The ever-growing importance of balanced food formulations (carbohydrates, fats, proteins and minerals) brings special challenges to the use of different ingredients, requiring development of appropriate flavor delivery systems. Again flavor enhancement is of great importance. Questions about the addition of glutamate or the total glutamate content of foods are of little importance, from a scientific point of view. However, in a given legal framework, important business opportunities can be realized. One of the main concerns of manufacturers of savory food is how to provide the consumer with tasty foods while complying with increasingly severe local legal constraints concerning the use of many potent flavoring systems.

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