Flavor compounds are usually volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which vary significantly in their polarity and hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity. These physicochemical properties cause the compounds to interact very differently with the diverse constituents in beverage and food matrices. Therefore, changes in the food matrix when new formulations are developed for nutritional or other reasons, can strongly affect the perceived flavor of the food or beverage product.
Traditional approaches to assessing effects on flavor during new product development are human sensory testing and headspace sampling followed by instrumental analysis (e.g. GC/MS). Both of these approaches are slow and expensive. Furthermore, headspace analysis very poorly represents the flavor release process in humans.
Enter Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS). Simple, direct, and very sensitive analysis of flavor release in mouthspace and nosespace (in addition to headspace) enables rapid determination and prediction of the acceptability of modified beverage formulations.
Recent work by Pakanat Patana-anake and Sheryl Barringer at the Ohio State University demonstrates use of SIFT-MS for understanding matrix effects in various fruit drinks. Click here to read their paper.