Online food products ‘too sweet’

While sweet taste was mentioned in 11 per cent of product reviews, saltiness was rarely mentioned

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 25 June 2019
Photo: Getty Images

Commercially available food products in marketplace are ‘too sweet’, according to researchers who analysed nearly 400,000 food reviews by Amazon customers. 

A team of researchers from US-based non-profit Monell Chemical Senses Centre used Machine Learning technique to identify words related to taste, texture, odour, spiciness, cost, health, and customer service in food reviews of 67,553 products. It was posted by 256,043 Amazon customers for a decade, the Environmental News Network reported.

The findings, published online in the journal Physiology and Behavior, showed that sweet taste was mentioned in 11 per cent of product reviews, almost three times more often than bitter.

Surprisingly, saltiness was rarely mentioned, the researchers said.

“This is the first study of this scale to study food choice beyond the artificial constraints of the laboratory,” said lead author Danielle Reed, a behavioral geneticist at Monell.

“Sweet was the most frequently mentioned taste quality and the reviewers definitively told us that human food is over-sweetened,” Reed added.

The team also found that difference in opinion about a particular product depends on the taste and smell of a product. This can help understand the biology of personal differences in food choice.

“Genetic differences in taste or olfactory receptor sensitivity may help account for the extreme reactions that some products get,” Reed said.

Studies have suggested that increased consumption of sugar can lead to major health issues like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and some cancers as well.

India has estimated 8.7 per cent diabetic population in the age group of 20 and 70 years. Restricting intake of free sugars to six teaspoons or less per day can help to reduce incidence of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, according to the World Health Organisation.

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