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2160 TASTE*

2160 A. Introduction

1. General Discussion and the FPA is most useful for identifying and characterizing
individual flavors in a water sample.4
Taste refers only to gustatory sensations called bitter, salty, Make flavor tests only on samples known to be safe for
sour, and sweet that result from chemical stimulation of sensory ingestion. Do not use samples that may be contaminated with
nerve endings located in the papillae of the tongue and soft bacteria, viruses, parasites, or hazardous chemicals, that contain
palate. Flavor refers to a complex of gustatory, olfactory, and dechlorinating agents such as sodium arsenite or that are derived
trigeminal sensations resulting from chemical stimulation of from an unesthetic source. Do not make flavor tests on waste-
sensory nerve endings located in the tongue, nasal cavity, and waters or similar untreated effluents. Observe all sanitary and
oral cavity.1 Water samples taken into the mouth for sensory esthetic precautions with regard to apparatus and containers
analysis always produce a flavor, although taste, odor, or mouth- contacting the sample. Properly clean and sterilize containers
feel may predominate, depending on the chemical substances before using them. Conduct analyses in a laboratory free from
present. Methods for sensory analysis presented herein require interfering background odors and if possible provide non-odor-
that the sample be taken into the mouth, that is, be tasted, but ous carbon-filtered air at constant temperature and humidity. Use
technically the sensory analysis requires evaluation of the com- the procedure described in Section 2150 with respect to taste-
plex sensation called flavor. As used here, taste refers to a and odor-free water to prepare dilution water and reference
method of sensory analysis in which samples are taken into the samples.
mouth but the resultant evaluations pertain to flavor.
Three methods have been developed for the sensory evaluation of 2. References
water samples taken into the mouth: the flavor threshold test (FTT),
the flavor rating assessment (FRA), and the flavor profile analysis 1. GELDARD, F.A. 1972. The Human Senses. John Wiley & Sons, New
(FPA) (Section 2170). The FTT is the oldest. It has been used York, N.Y.
extensively and is particularly useful for determining if the overall 2. BAKER, R.A. 1961. Taste and Odor in Water: A Critical Review.
flavor of a sample of finished water is detectably different from a Manufacturing Chemists Assoc., Washington, D.C.
defined standard.2 The FRA is especially valuable for determining 3. BRUVOLD, W.H. 1968. Scales for rating the taste of water. J. Appl.
if a sample of finished water is acceptable for daily consumption,3 Psychol. 52:245.
4. MALLEVIALE, J. & I.H. SUFFET, eds. 1987. The Identification and
Treatment of Tastes and Odors in Drinking Water. American Water
* Approved by Standard Methods Committee, 2000. Works Association Research Foundation, Denver, Colo.

2160 B. Flavor Threshold Test (FTT)

1. General Discussion 2. Procedure

Use the FTT to measure detectable flavor quantitatively. More a. Panel selection: Carefully select by preliminary trials in-
precisely, use the method to compare the sample flavor objec- terested persons to make flavor tests. Exclude insensitive persons
tively with that of specified reference water used as diluent. and insure that the testers are free from colds or allergies.
The flavor threshold number (FTN) is the greatest dilution of Familiarize testers with the procedure before they participate in
sample with reference water yielding a definitely perceptible a panel test, but do not let them prepare samples or know dilution
difference. The FTN is computed as follows: concentrations being evaluated. For precise work use a panel of
five or more testers.
AB b. Taste characterization: Have each observer describe the char-
A acteristic sample flavor of the most concentrated sample. Compile
where: the consensus that may appear among testers. The value of charac-
terization increases as observers become more experienced with a
A sample volume, mL, and particular flavor category such as chlorophenolic, grassy, or musty.
B reference water (diluent) volume, mL.
c. Preliminary test: To determine approximate range of the
Table 2160:I gives the FTNs corresponding to various dilutions. FTN, add 200-, 50-, 12-, and 4-mL sample portions to volumes
of reference water (see Section 2150) designated in Table 2160:I
in separate 300-mL glass beakers to make a total of 200 mL in
TASTE (2160)/Flavor Threshold Test (FTT) 2-17

TABLE 2160:I. FLAVOR THRESHOLD NUMBERS CORRESPONDING TO Present series of samples to each tester in order of increasing
VARIOUS DILUTIONS concentration. Pair each sample with a known reference. Have
Sample Diluent Flavor tester taste sample by taking into the mouth whatever volume is
Volume Volume Threshold No. comfortable, moving sample throughout the mouth, holding it
mL mL FTN for several seconds, and discharging it without swallowing. Have
tester compare sample with reference and record whether a
200 0 1 flavor or aftertaste is detectable. Insert two or more reference
100 100 2 blanks in the series near the expected threshold, but avoid any
70 130 3
repeated pattern. Do not let tester know which samples have
50 150 4
35 165 6 flavor and which are blanks. Instruct tester to taste each sample
25 175 8 in sequence, beginning with the least concentrated sample, until
17 183 12 flavor is detected with certainty.
12 188 17 Record observations by indicating whether flavor is noted in
8 192 25 each test beaker. For example:
6 194 33
4 196 50 mL Sample 6 8 12 0 17 25 35 0 50
3 197 67 Diluted to
2 198 100 200 mL
1 199 200 Response

each beaker, and mix gently with clean stirrer. Use separate signifies negative response and
beaker containing only reference water for comparison. Keep signifies positive response.
sample temperature during testing within 1C of specified tem-
perature. Present samples to each taster in a uniform manner, 3. Calculation
with the reference water presented first, followed by the most
dilute sample. If a flavor can be detected in this dilution, prepare The flavor threshold number is the dilution ratio at which
an intermediate sample by diluting 20 mL sample to 200 mL with flavor is just detectable. In the example above, the first detectable
reference water. Use this dilution for threshold determination and flavor occurred when 25 mL sample was diluted to 200 mL
multiply FTN obtained by 10 to correct for intermediate dilution. In yielding a threshold number of 8 (Table 2160:I). Reference
rare cases a higher intermediate dilution may be required. blanks do not influence calculation of the threshold.
If no flavor is detected in the most dilute sample, repeat using The smallest FTN that can be observed is 1, where the beaker
the next concentration. Continue this process until flavor is contains 200 mL undiluted sample. If no flavor is detected at this
detected clearly. concentration, report No flavor observed instead of a threshold
d. FTN determination: Based on results obtained in the pre- number.
liminary test, prepare a set of dilutions using Table 2160:II as a Anomalous responses sometimes occur; a low concentration
guide. Prepare the seven dilutions shown on the appropriate line. may be called positive and a higher concentration in the series
This array is necessary to challenge the range of sensitivities of may be called negative. In such cases, designate the threshold as
the entire panel of testers. If the sample being tested requires that point after which no further anomalies occur. The following
more dilution than is provided by Table 2160:II, make interme- illustrates an approach to an anomalous series (responses to
diate dilutions as directed in c above. reference blanks are excluded):
Use a clean 50-mL beaker filled to the 25-mL level or use an
Increasing Concentration 3
ordinary restaurant-style drinking glass for each dilution and
reference sample. Do not use glassware used in sensory testing Response:
for other analyses. Between tests, sanitize containers in an au-
tomatic dishwasher supplied with water at not less than 60C. 2
Maintain samples at 15 1C. However, if temperature of water Threshold
in the distribution system is higher than 15C, select an appropriate Calculate mean and standard deviation of all FTNs if the
temperature. Specify temperature in reporting results. distribution is reasonably symmetrical; otherwise, express the
threshold of a group as the median or geometric mean of indi-
vidual thresholds.
Sample Volume
4. Interpretation of Results
in Which Taste Volumes to be Diluted to
Is First Noted 200 mL
mL mL An FTN is not a precise value. In the case of the single
observer it represents a judgment at the time of testing. Panel
200 200, 100, 70, 50, 35, 25, 17 results are more meaningful because individual differences have
50 50, 35, 25, 17, 12, 8, 6 less influence on the test result. One or two observers can
12 12, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 develop useful data if comparison with larger panels has been
4 Intermediate dilution
made to check their sensitivity. Do not make comparisons of data

from time to time or place to place unless all test conditions have MIDDLETON, F.M., A.A. ROSEN & R.H. BRUTTSCHELL. 1958. Taste and
been standardized carefully and there is some basis for compar- odor research tools for water utilities. J. Amer. Water Works Assoc.
ison of observed FTNs. 50:231.
SHELLENBERGER, R.D. 1958. Procedures for determining threshold odor
concentrations in aqueous solutions. Taste Odor Control J. 24:1.
5. Bibliography
Taste threshold concentrations of metals in drinking water. J. Amer.
Water Works Assoc. 52:660.
HULBERT, R. & D. FEBEN. 1941. Studies on accuracy of threshold odor BAKER, R.A. 1961. Problems of tastes and odors. J. Water Pollut.
value. J. Amer. Water Works Assoc. 33:1945. Control Fed. 33:1099.
SPAULDING, C.H. 1942. Accuracy and application of threshold odor test. ROSEN, A.A., J.B. PETER & F.M. MIDDLETON. 1962. Odor thresholds of
J. Amer. Water Works Assoc. 34:877. mixed organic chemicals. J. Water Pollut. Control Fed. 34:7.
THOMAS, H.A. 1943. Calculation of threshold odor. J. Amer. Water BAKER, R.A. 1962. Critical evaluation of olfactory measurement. J.
Works Assoc. 35:751. Water Pollut. Control Fed. 34:582.
COX, G.J. & J. W. NATHANS. 1952. A study of the taste of fluoridated BAKER, R.A. 1963. Threshold odors of organic chemicals. J. Amer.
water. J. Amer. Water Works Assoc. 44:940. Water Works Assoc. 55:913.
LAUGHLIN, H.F. 1954. Palatable level with the threshold odor test. Taste BAKER, R.A. 1963. Odor testing laboratory. J. Water Pollut. Control
Odor Control J. 20:1. Fed. 35:1396.
COX, G.J., J.W. NATHANS & N. VONAU. 1955. Subthreshold-to-taste BAKER, R.A. 1963. Odor effects of aqueous mixtures of organic chem-
thresholds of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium ions in icals. J. Water Pollut. Control Fed. 35:728.
water. J. Appl. Physiol. 8:283. ROSEN, A.A., R.T. SKEEL & M.B. ETTINGER. 1963. Relationship of river
LOCKHART, E.E., C.L. TUCKER & M.C. MERRITT. 1955. The effect of water odor to specific organic contaminants. J. Water Pollut. Con-
water impurities on the flavor of brewed coffee. Food Res. 20:598. trol Fed. 35:777.
Effects of certain chemicals in water on the flavor of brewed coffee. thresholds of halogens in water. J. Amer. Water Works Assoc.
Food Res. 23:575. 65:363.

2160 C. Flavor Rating Assessment (FRA)

1. General Discussion b. Rating test: A single rating session may be used to evaluate up
to 10 samples, including the criterion samples mentioned in 2
When the purpose of the test is to estimate acceptability for above. Allow at least 30 min rest between repeated rating sessions.
daily consumption, use the flavor rating assessment described For glassware requirements, see B.2d.
below. This procedure has been used with samples from public Present samples at a temperature that the testers will find
sources in laboratory research and consumer surveys to recom- pleasant for drinking water; maintain this temperature through-
mend standards governing mineral content in drinking water. out testing. A temperature of 15C is recommended, but in any
Each tester is presented with a list of nine statements about the case, do not let the test temperature exceed tap water tempera-
water ranging on a scale from very favorable to very unfavor- tures customary at the time of the test. Specify test temperature
able. The testers task is to select the statement that best ex- in reporting results.
presses his or her opinion. The individual rating is the scale Independently randomize sample order for each tester. Instruct
number of the statement selected. The panel rating for a partic- each to complete the following steps: 1) Taste about half the
ular sample is an appropriate measure of central tendency of the sample by taking water into the mouth, holding it for several
scale numbers for all testers for that sample. seconds, and discharging it without swallowing; 2) Form an
initial judgment on the rating scale; 3) Make a second tasting in
2. Samples a similar manner; 4) Make a final rating and record result on an
appropriate data form; 5) Rinse mouth with reference water; 6)
Sample finished water ready for human consumption or use Rest 1 min before repeating Steps 1 through 5 on next sample.
experimentally treated water if the sanitary requirements given c. Characterization: If characterization of flavor also is re-
in Section 2160A.1 are met fully. Use taste- and odor-free water quired, conduct a final rating session wherein each tester is asked
as described in Section 2150 and a solution of 2000 mg NaCl/L to describe the flavor of each sample rated (see B.2b).
prepared with taste- and odor-free water as criterion samples.

3. Procedure 4. Calculation

a. Panel selection and preparation: Give prospective testers Use the following scale for rating. Record ratings as integers
thorough instructions and trial or orientation sessions followed ranging from one to nine, with one given the highest quality
by questions and discussion of procedures. In tasting samples, rating. Calculate mean and standard deviation of all ratings if the
testers work alone. Select panel members on the basis of perfor- distribution is reasonably symmetrical, otherwise express the
mance in these trial sessions. Do not let testers know the com- most typical rating of a group as the median or geometric mean
position or source of specific samples. of individual ratings.

Action tendency scale: DILLEHAY, R.C., W.H. BRUVOLD & J.P. SIEGEL. 1967. On the assessment
1) I would be very happy to accept this water as my everyday of potability. J. Appl. Psychol. 51:89.
drinking water. BRUVOLD, W.H. 1968. Mineral Taste in Domestic Water. Univ. Califor-
2) I would be happy to accept this water as my everyday nia Water Resources Center, Los Angeles.
drinking water. BRUVOLD, W.H. & H.J. ONGERTH. 1969. Taste quality of mineralized
3) I am sure that I could accept this water as my everyday water. J. Amer. Water Works Assoc. 61:170.
drinking water. BRUVOLD, W.H. & W.R. GAFFEY. 1969. Rated acceptability of mineral
4) I could accept this water as my everyday drinking water. taste in water. II: Combinatorial effects of ions on quality and action
tendency ratings. J. Appl. Psychol. 53:317.
5) Maybe I could accept this water as my everyday drinking
DILLEHAY, R.C., W.H. BRUVOLD & J.P. SIEGEL. 1969. Attitude, object
label, and stimulus factors in response to an attitude object. J.
6) I dont think I could accept this water as my everyday
Personal. Social Psychol. 11:220.
drinking water. BRUVOLD, W.H. 1970. Laboratory panel estimation of consumer assess-
7) I could not accept this water as my everyday drinking water. ments of taste and flavor. J. Appl Psychol. 54:326.
8) I could never drink this water. PANGBORN, R.M., I.M. TRABUE & R.C. BALDWIN. 1970. Sensory exami-
9) I cant stand this water in my mouth and I could never nation of mineralized, chlorinated waters. J. Amer. Water Works
drink it. Assoc. 62:572.
PANGBORN, R.M., I.M. TRABUE & A.C. LITTLE. 1971. Analysis of coffee,
5. Interpretation of Results
tea and artifically flavored drinks prepared from mineralized waters.
J. Food Sci. 36:355.
Values representing the central tendency and dispersion of BRUVOLD, W.H. & P.C. WARD. 1971. Consumer assessment of water quality
quality ratings for a laboratory panel are only estimates of these and the cost of improvements. J. Amer. Water Works Assoc. 63:3.
values for a defined consuming population. PANGBORN, R.M. & L.L. BERTOLERO. 1972. Influence of temperature on
taste intensity and degree of liking of drinking water. J. Amer.
6. Bibliography
Water Works Assoc. 64:511.
BRUVOLD, W.H. 1975. Human perception and evaluation of water qual-
BRUVOLD, W.H. & R.M. PANGBORN. 1966. Rated acceptability of mineral ity. Crit. Rev. Environ. Control 5:153.
taste in water. J. Appl. Psychol. 50:22. BRUVOLD, W.H. 1976. Consumer Evaluation of the Cost and Quality of
BRUVOLD, W.H., H.J. ONGERTH & R.C. DILLEHAY. 1967. Consumer
Domestic Water. Univ. California Water Resources Center, Davis.
attitudes toward mineral taste in domestic water. J. Amer. Water
Works Assoc. 59:547.


2170 A. Introduction

1. Discussion by the most readily perceived odorant or mixture. Sample dilu-

tion may change the odor attribute that is measured.1,2 FPA
Flavor profile analysis (FPA) is a technique for identifying determines the strength or intensity of each perceived taste or
sample taste(s) and odor(s). For general information on taste see odor without dilution or treatment of the sample.
Section 2160; for information on odor see Section 2150.
FPA differs from threshold odor number because the sample is 2. References
not diluted and each taste or odor attribute is individually char-
acterized and assigned its own intensity rating. The single nu- 1. MALLEVIALLE, J. & I.H. SUFFET, eds. 1987. Identification and Treat-
merical rating obtained in measuring threshold odor is controlled ment of Tastes and Odors in Drinking Water. American Water Works
Assoc., Denver, Colo.
2. BRUCHET, A., D. KHIARI & I. SUFFET. 1995. Monitoring and analysis.
* Approved by Standard Methods Committee, 1997.
Joint Task Group: 20th EditionIrwin H. Suffet (chair), Gary A. Burlingame,
In I. Suffet, J. Mallevialle & E. Kawczynski, eds. Advances in Taste
Thomas S. Gittelman, Carol Ruth James, Morten C. Meilgaard, Lisa M. Ober- and Odor Treatment and Control. American Water Works Assoc.
meyer. Research Foundation & Lyonnaise des Eaux, Denver, Colo.

2170 B. Flavor Profile Analysis

1. General Discussion samples. Flavor attributes are determined by tasting; odor at-
tributes (aroma) are determined by sniffing the sample. The
a. Principle: Flavor profile analysis uses a group of four or method allows more than one flavor, odor attribute, or feeling
five trained panelists to examine the sensory characteristics of

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