The ability of 10-11-year -old children to identify basic tastes and their liking towards unfamiliar foods


The involvement of children in sensory evaluation and consumer research continues to increase and has become crucial in the food industry, as children sensory perceptions differ from adults. Research on basic taste sensitivity in children provides contradictory results, with most of the studies not considering the familiarity aspect of the food samples. Familiarity can lead children to memories of the food which are able to influence their taste perception and liking. This study aims to investigate the ability of 10 to 11-year old children in identifying sweetness, saltiness, sourness, and bitterness in unfamiliar food samples. The taste identification data was collected from 98 children using 19 food samples representing the four basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. For each food sample, the children evaluated their familiarity, the basic taste(s) they perceived using the check-all-that-apply (CATA) method and scored their liking. Their basic taste identification ability was investigated by comparing their results to trained panellists as a reference. The food samples were unfamiliar to most of the children (never tasted by 85% of the children on average). Correspondence Analysis (CA) showed that children were able to identify the basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter in the unfamiliar foods, with a high congruency to the trained panellists. However, children’s identification ability was lower when combinations of dominant basic tastes occurred. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) demonstrated a positive correlation between the presence of sweet taste and the children’s liking while sour and bitter tastes showed the opposite.