Running a food company? – taste your product!

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, food was a much more popular topic than politics. As you can imagine those discussions were also a lot more pleasant. We are a food family that also happens to have been involved in both cooking food and manufacturing food. Many of our conversations start with: “This tastes like…” and end with suggestions on what beverage would pair well with the dish.

Beer or Wine with that? Duck raw TG 2018

That choice will depend on how you are genetically wired – how your taste buds interact with your brain.

At its most basic, the 5 tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami) signal our bodies what to get ready for.

But it’s far more complicated than that!

Z Niche blog taste map 112618

 

For many years science used a simple map of our tongue to show the areas specializing in specific tastes. We are now realizing that it involves not just the taste buds in our mouth but in the throat and down to the stomach. In addition taste involves smell, texture and nerve endings. For example, research has also shown how certain foods can send signals to our brains that distort normal data. For example, capsaicin directly activates our tongue’s touch rather than taste-bud receptors. For more detail you can read Tip of the Tongue: Humans May Taste at Least 6 Flavors .

How does that tie into running a food manufacturing company?

When I first got involved in manufacturing foods, the Chairman of our parent company had an example he liked to use whenever he visited one of the plants and requested a tasting of the products that were being made.

His opening line was: “If the dog does not eat the food…”. It was the story of a European dog food manufacturing start-up that made the best dog food in the world. Unfortunately, they went out of business in 3 months. They forgot to test if dogs would eat it!

I took that story very much to heart and to this day when I am involved with a product that I can eat, wear or otherwise use personally, I insist on doing so. I should add that it may not make the product better, but it does insure that it works as intended.

Finally, a shout -out to Donald McKenzie whose blog “Dining with Donald always includes a book review or two. He is the one who recommended the book “Tasty” by John McQuaid . It was thought provoking.

 

 

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