Title page for ETD etd-01152009-175536

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Kobue-Lekalake, Rosemary Ikalafeng
Email s24130967@tuks.co.za
URN etd-01152009-175536
Document Title Sensory perception of bitterness and astringency in sorghum
Degree PhD
Department Food Science
Advisor Name Title
Prof J R N Taylor Co-Supervisor
Dr H L De Kock Supervisor
  • sorghum
  • astringency
  • bitterness
Date 2008-09-03
Availability unrestricted

There is a conflict of interest between the sorghum producers, for whom condensed tannins in sorghum have agronomic advantages, and sorghum users for whom condensed tannins in sorghum are perceived as nutritionally harmful and unpalatable. However, in recent years there has been growing interest in food phenolics due to their antioxidant potential. Thus, enhancing the content of phenolic compounds in plant foods through selective breeding and/or genetic improvement is now being viewed as a potent dietary option for disease prevention and control. However, the objectionable sensory attributes (bitterness and astringency) of phenolic compounds, especially condensed tannins, have resulted in low consumption of foods rich in these compounds. This study investigated the sensory attributes of products of sorghums varying in total phenol and condensed tannin content as well as their acceptance.

A descriptive sensory panel described the sensory attributes including bitterness and astringency of two products, sorghum rice and bran infusions of six sorghum cultivars: three containing tannins and three with no detectable tannins. The products of all the sorghums (tannin and tannin-free) were perceived to different degrees as both bitter and astringent. The products of sorghums with the highest total phenol and tannin content were most bitter and astringent while those from tannin-free sorghums with the lowest total phenol content were least bitter and astringent. The products of NS 5511 (tannins - 1.8% catechin equivalents CE), were perceived similar in both bitterness and astringency to those of a tannin-free sorghum (PAN 8564). Using the Dual Attribute Time Intensity (DATI) sensory method the descriptive sensory panel determined the intensity and time course of bitterness and astringency of bran infusions of sorghums varying in total phenol and condensed tannin content. The infusion from the sorghum with the highest condensed tannin content (PAN 3860) was perceived as most bitter and most astringent and that from the tannin-free sorghum with the least total phenol content (Phofu) was least bitter and astringent. Bitterness of the sorghum infusions developed and reached maximum intensity significantly faster than astringency. The total duration of the astringency sensation lasted significantly longer than bitterness. The more bitter and more astringent the sorghum was, the longer the persistence of the bitter and astringent after-taste. The infusion of NS 5511 was again perceived similar to tannin-free sorghums in both bitterness and astringency. These findings seem to suggest that there is a condensed tannin threshold level at which the tannins are not ‘strongly’ perceived and thus are not objectionable.

A consumer panel classified by 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) taster status assessed the colour, texture, flavour and overall liking of sorghum rice of two tannin-containing (tannin) sorghums and two tannin-free sorghums. The sorghum rice from PAN 3860, with the highest tannin content, received significantly lower acceptance ratings for all the sensory attributes than the other sorghums. With the exception of appearance, the acceptance of the sorghum rice from the tannin sorghum NS 5511 was not significantly different from that of the two tannin-free sorghums. The PROP tasters (medium and super) could distinguish differences among the sorghum cultivars varying in tannin content levels which presumably led to the significant difference in their acceptance ratings for the most bitter and astringent sorghum compared to others. On the other hand the non tasters preferred the cultivars equally, presumably because they could not detect taste differences (in bitterness and astringency) between the sorghum cultivars. The results of the consumer panel confirm the predictions made from the descriptive sensory panel results that not all the tannin sorghum products would be objectionable to consumers.

It is proposed that the condensed tannin threshold level is 2.0% CE inclusive of the tannin content level of NS 5511 (1.8% CE). It is recommended that future breeding programmes investigate production of sorghums like NS 5511 with condensed tannin levels that fall within this threshold limit. The level of condensed tannins in these sorghums would provide the agronomic advantages for the farmer by reducing pre-harvest and post-harvest losses as well as provide the antioxidant benefits associated with them without negatively affecting the nutritional value of the food/feed. Since the negative sensory properties of these sorghums are not strongly perceived they would not be objectionable to consumers, thus making them a promising health option for millions of people.

©University of Pretoria 2008

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