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Physiol Behav. 2005 Sep 15;86(1-2):111-7.

Relating particles and texture perception.

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Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences, the Netherlands.


Practically all foods contain particles. It has been suggested that the presence of particles in food may affect the perception of sensory attributes. In the present study we investigated the effect of size and type (hardness and shape) of particles added to a CMC based vanilla custard dessert. The two types of particles included in the study were silica dioxide and polystyrene spheres, varying in size from 2 to 230 microm. Eighteen trained adults participated in the study. They rated the sensation of 17 sensory flavour and texture attributes on a 100-point visual analogue scale (VAS). The results indicate that the addition of particles increased the sensation of roughness attributes and decreased the ratings of a number of presumably favorable texture attributes (smoothness, creamy, fatty and slippery) significantly. These effects increased with increasing particle size up to 80 microm. Roughness ratings deceased for larger particles sizes. Surprisingly, even particles of 2 microm had significant effects: they increased perceived rough lip-tooth feel, and decreased slippery lip-tooth feel and smoothness of the product. The affected attributes had previously been related to lubricative properties of foods. Particles added to semi-solid foods with relatively low levels of fat seem to counteract the lubricating effects of the fat resulting in increased oral friction. In a separate study on size perception the silica dioxide particles were used. By sampling the stimuli between the tongue and palate, subjects rated the size of the particles on a 100-point scale in comparison to anchor stimuli containing no particles and particles of 250 microm. The perceived particle size significantly increased for larger particles. Furthermore, perceived particle size was negatively correlated with roughness ratings. Thus, subjects who were sensitive and perceived the particles as being relatively large reported the same stimuli to have less rough after-feel. In conclusion, particles added to a product induce large effects on texture sensations, and texture sensation is related to individual size perception.

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