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Friday, 15 October 2010

Background noise affects taste of foods

A news article I read the other day:

The level of background noise affects both the intensity of flavour and the perceived crunchiness of foods.

Diners were blindfoldee and has to judge the sweetness, saltiness, and crunchiness, as well as overall flavour, of foods as they were played white noise. Interstingly, whilst louder noise reduced the reported sweetness or saltiness, it increased the measure of crunch.

"In a comparatively small study, 48 participants were fed sweet foods such as biscuits or salty ones such as crisps, while listening to silence or noise through headphones.

Meanwhile they rated the intensity of the flavours and of their liking.

In noisier settings, foods were rated less salty or sweet than they were in the absence of background noise, but were rated to be more crunchy.

"The evidence points to this effect being down to where your attention lies - if the background noise is loud it might draw your attention to that, away from the food," Dr Woods said."

The article went on to talk about how this was the reason airplane food tasted so bland, which may be one of the reasons...(quality of food may be another but it's been a number of years since I was on a plane, perhaps it's different to how I imagine!)

It does highlight the interesting idea of attention though, and the white noise acts as a distracter, meaning we arn't concentrating on the food in our mouth, but instead to our other senses. But does it make a difference if the participant is blindfolded or not? Does the inclusion/ommision of sensation to the eyes impact on the taste of food? Surely if extra information to the ears can divide attention then the same could happen with visual information?

So, any restaurant owners want to boost their ratngs? Look to making your restaurant quieter - and possibly darker! - and your food could potentially taste far better, even if less crunchy!

Link to Article

Link to study

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