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Title: The chemistry and physiology of sour taste – A review

item Johanningsmeier, Suzanne
item McFeeters, Roger

Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2006
Publication Date: 3/8/2007
Citation: Da Conceicao Neta, E.R., Johanningsmeier, S.D., McFeeters, R.F. 2007. The chemistry and physiology of sour taste – A review. Journal of Food Science. 72(2):R33-R38.

Interpretive Summary: Sour taste is one of the five basic tastes that humans detect on their tongues. It is particularly important in acid, acidified, and fermented foods in which acids are used to help prevent spoilage and well as to provide the level of sour taste that consumers expect. This article provides a review of our current knowledge of the relationships between the acids present in food and their ability to cause sour taste. In addition, current theories of the ways in which taste buds respond to acids in order that humans perceive sour taste are reviewed.

Technical Abstract: Sour taste is the key element in the flavor profile of food acidulants. Understanding the chemistry and physiology of sour taste is critical for efficient control of flavor in the formulation of acid and acidified foods. After a brief introduction to the main applications of food acidulants, several chemical parameters associated with sour taste are discussed. Special emphasis is given to hydrogen ions, protonated (undissociated) acid species, titratable acidity, anions, molar concentration, and physical and chemical properties of organic acids. This article also presents an overview of the physiology of sour taste and proposed theories for the transduction mechanisms for sour taste. The physiology of sour taste perception remains controversial and significant diversity exists among species with regard to cellular schemes used for detection of stimuli. The variety of mechanisms proposed, even within individual species, highlights the complexity of elucidating sour taste transduction. However, recent evidence suggests that at least one specific sour taste receptor protein has been identified.