Functional ingredients may impact sensory perception of energy drinks

September 8, 2010

Energy drinks have increased in popularity in recent years due to the claimed energy boost provided by functional ingredients. A multitude of functional ingredients have been utilized; however, there is limited research on their sensory effects in energy drink formulations. In a study published in the Journal of Food Science, a 13-member descriptive analysis panel investigated the effects on the sensory and rheological properties of three common functional ingredients—caffeine, ginseng, and taurine—in a noncarbonated model energy drink solution.

Combinations of these functional ingredients at three levels (low, medium, high) were added to create a total of 27 different solutions. Analysis of variance was performed to evaluate the sensory effects of the varying concentrations of functional ingredients in solution. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed to summarize the relationship among the attributes and solutions.

The scientists found that in general, high levels of caffeine in solution resulted in low ratings of fruity attributes and high ratings of bitter tea and fruit bitter attributes. The high level of ginseng in solution was characterized by high ratings of bitter attributes. The sweet, artificial lemon-lime, pear, mango, and pineapple attributes were rated lower in intensity with increased ginseng levels. Taurine levels of up to 416 mg/100 mL had no significant effect on the sensory attribute ratings of the model energy drink solutions. These findings can be utilized to predict the changes in sensory characteristics when formulating energy drinks containing these popular functional ingredients.