Consumers demand cleaner and more transparent labels forcing the food industry to take a second look at their recipes. As a result, ingredients such as MSG, I+G and yeast extract are replaced with natural flavour enhancers.

Flavour enhancers

Flavour enhancers are able to bring out and balance flavours in products, just like herbs and spices do. That’s why today, flavour enhancers are a very popular and useful ingredient in food production. As a result of their special taste providing characteristics, flavour enhancers are used in sauces, broths, meat dishes, ready meals and savoury snacks.

Flavour enhancers have an umami taste. Umami is the fifth taste, joining sweet, sour, salty and bitter. These are unique tastes that cannot be created by mixing other tastes, and are known as the basic, or primary tastes. Umami is a general term used mainly for substances combining the amino acid glutamate, and/or the nucleotides inosinate and guanylate, with minerals such as sodium and potassium.

  • Glutamate is found in a variety of foods we consume daily such as tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese. In addition, the human body also produces glutamate. Indeed, glutamate is naturally present in our saliva, and in a rather high concentration in breast milk.
  • Inosinate is found in generous quantities in animal-based foods such as meat and fish.
  • Guanylate can be found in dried mushroom products such as dried shiitake.

Umami

The umami component of food increases as a result of processing such as ripening and fermentation. Many traditional foodstuffs from around the world, such as soy sauce and other fermented condiments made from grain, fish sauces and cheeses are excellent sources of umami.

It has been scientifically proven that umami is sensed far more strongly when these are present not individually, but when glutamate is combined with inosinate or guanylate. This is referred to as umami synergy. Yet people have been capitalizing on umami synergy for centuries, long before this effect was scientifically proven. All over the world, dishes are made combining glutamate-rich vegetables with inosinate-rich meat and fish. This means people have acquired an empirical understanding of umami synergy and applied that knowledge to cooking.

The strength of the umami synergy between glutamate and inosinate depends on their ratio. When solutions containing slightly varying proportions of glutamate and inosinate were used to perform a sensory evaluation, umami was found to be most powerful with a glutamate to inosinate ratio of exactly 1:1. This proportion was deemed 7 to 8 times the intensity of tasting either glutamate or inosinate in isolation.

Scelta Taste Accelerator

The Scelta Taste Accelerator contains both glutamate and guanylate. Where yeast extract, MSG and I+G only contains the amino acid glutamate or the nucleotides inosinate and guanylate. This makes STA a more powerful flavour enhancer.

Natural glutamate is often mistaken with monosodium glutamate (MSG) – a common flavour enhancer. MSG is composed exclusively of glutamate salt. As a result, monosodium glutamate does not have a taste of its own and is only used to make existing flavours stronger. I+G does the same, but only contains different flavour enhancing components such as inosinate and guanylate. Yeast extract comes from a natural source but is not always perceived as natural. STA is a 100% natural product made from mushroom side streams.

Natural flavour enhancers can be very costly. Scelta Taste Accelerator is used at very low dosages, making it cost competitive to MSG/AYE and I+G.

Depending on the application, STA can be used to replace MSG/AYE/I+G completely. It can also be used in combination with other flavour enhancers to create a stronger effect or decrease the content of expensive flavour enhancers.