Ever wondered why plane food usually tends to taste dull and bland?
Here’s what researchers have to say: Eating is a multi-sensory experience so exposure to loud noise on a plane can cut passengers’ enjoyment of the meal, reported Mirror.
Airplanes are environments where food is usually consumed under extremely noisy condition, which explains the poor reputation airline meals receive.
Psychologists in the US studied the influence of noise during a flight on the five basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami.
A total of 48 participants rated the five solutions on a scale from ‘barely detectable’ to ‘strongest imaginable’.
Each taste was tested with three concentration levels and at different noise levels ranging from normal room noise to 85 decibels.
Noise was delivered for 30 minutes prior to testing while participants read or studied, or played during testing.
The results stated that intensity ratings for three of the five solutions — salty, bitter and sour taste — were not influenced by noise level.
However, taste intensity was suppressed for sweet solutions at all concentration levels and enhanced for umami solutions at higher concentrations, in the air cabin noise condition.
Study co-author Kimberly Yan, of Cornell University in New York state, said: “These results suggest that enjoyment of airline food may be rated consistently lower than would be expected because the loud ambient noise dampens perception of pleasurable sweet flavours.
“However, the results also suggest that this could be ameliorated by focusing on the sought-after taste quality of umami, which was not just immune to the effects of loud noise, but enhanced by it.”
The authors said the link between noise and taste was not totally surprising as nerves connected to the taste buds cross the ear on their way to the brain.