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Scientist creates 'taste test strips'

June 12, 2008 at 3:25 PM

PHILADELPHIA, June 12 (UPI) -- A U.S. scientist says he's developed a new, more effective taste testing method based on the same technology used to produce breath freshener strips.

Greg Smutzer, director of Temple University's Laboratory of Gustatory Psychophysics, said each of his edible taste strips contain one of the five basic tastes that can be detected by humans: sweet, sour, salty, bitter or monosodium glutamate, which is also known as umami taste.

"What is typically done in the lab is a 'sip and spit' test, where a liquid solution is prepared that contains dissolved tastant," Smutzer said. The procedure involves placing a small amount of the solution into a cup for the test subject to place into their mouth, swish around and then expectorate.

But that technique is difficult to administer outside the lab because the solutions have a very short shelf life and cannot effectively examine selected regions of the tongue.

Smutzer, who hopes to commercialize his strips, said they might also be beneficial to the pharmaceutical industry in determining whether new drugs or therapies interfere with taste function.

The research appeared in advance of print in the June 2 online edition of the journal The Laryngoscope.

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