Flavor enhancers

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List of flavor enhancers

Flavor enhancers are food additives . Only individual substances with the E numbers E 6xx are designated as real flavor enhancers, but not mixed products with a high proportion of amino acids such as yeast extract , hydrolysates of proteins or flavors . All these other additives are also suitable as flavor enhancers due to their effect.

Mode of action

Traditionally, it is assumed in western cultures that their effect is mainly based on sensitizing the oral papillae . It is now proven that z. B. bind glutamates directly to receptors of the taste buds and must therefore be added to the four well-known flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter) as the fifth taste with the name umami . In addition, the intensity of the umami taste of glutamic acid is considerably enhanced by the purines inosine monophosphate (IMP) and guanosine monophosphate (GMP), which can also be achieved by adding their salts (especially disodium guanosinate and disodium inosinate). This thesis was put forward by Kikunae Ikeda in Japan in 1908 .


Many foods , including ripe and especially dried tomatoes (dried up to 0.648%), cheese (with Parmesan up to 2.7% glutamate), breast milk , soy sauce and fish sauce , naturally contain relatively high levels of glutamates (the anions and the salts of glutamic acid ), which are colloquially simply referred to as glutamate. Glutamic acid is the most abundant amino acid in breast milk. Since glutamic acid is one of the 21 amino acids from which proteins are formed in all living things, it is contained in every protein-containing food. Monosodium glutamate (E 621) is used particularly frequently in industrial food production. A stronger effect is achieved with mixtures of 95% glutamates and 5% guanylate or inosinate . This activates the glutamate receptor on the tongue, consisting of the two proteins T1R1 and T1R3 , more strongly. Homocysteic acid , cysteine-S-sulfonic acid and ibotenic acid have a similar effect as glutamate. Tricholomic acid ( naturally occurring in the mushrooms Tricholoma muscarium) is also one of the flavor enhancers.

To enhance the sweet taste is carbohydrate -rich foods maltol (E 636) was added, causing a slight flavor note is created.


Flavor enhancers have come under public criticism. An occasionally alleged intolerance of some people to glutamate has not been proven by scientific standards.

Clean labeling

In the course of increasing nutritional awareness among consumers and the labeling requirement for food additives , substitutes are increasingly being used in the food industry instead of flavor enhancers that are subject to labeling (only in pure form - classification with so-called E numbers ). The best-known examples of this are the use of yeast extracts , seasonings and spice extracts, which - like many protein-containing foods - contain natural glutamates or enhance their effect.

According to an EMNID survey, a majority of German consumers feel deceived by statements such as “without flavor enhancers”.

Individual evidence

  1. Li, X. et al. (2002): Human receptors for sweet and umami taste. In: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99 (7): 4692-4696. PMID 11917125 PDF
  2. Yamaguchi, S. & Ninomiya, K. (2000): Umami and Food Palatability. In: Journal of Nutrition. 130: 921S-126S. PMID 10736353 PDF
  3. Sadaf Shadan: A taste of umami. In: Nature. 457, 2009, p. 160, doi : 10.1038 / 457160a .
  4. W. He, K. Yasumatsu, V. Varadarajan, A. Yamada, J. Lem, Y. Ninomiya, RF Margolskee, S. Damak: Umami taste responses are mediated by alpha-transducin and alpha-gustducin. In: The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Volume 24, number 35, September 2004, pp. 7674-7680, doi : 10.1523 / JNEUROSCI.2441-04.2004 , PMID 15342734 .
  5. a b c Ole G. Mouritsen, Klavs Styrbæk: Umami. Columbia University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-231-16890-8 . Pp. 226-228.
  6. Hans Konrad Biesalski : Micronutrients as the engine of evolution. Springer-Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-642-55397-4 , p. 164.
  7. ^ Günter Vollmer: Food guide. John Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 978-3-527-62587-1 , p. 136.
  8. Hans-Dieter Belitz , Werner Grosch : Textbook of food chemistry. Springer-Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-540-73202-0 , p. 442 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  9. Waldemar Ternes , Alfred Täufel, Lieselotte Tunger, Martin Zobel (eds.): Food Lexicon . 4th, comprehensively revised edition. Behr, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-89947-165-2 .
  10. Gerhard iron Brand: RÖMPP Encyclopedia of Food Chemistry, 2nd edition, 2006 , Georg Thieme Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-131-79532-8 , p 53rd
  11. Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR): Hypersensitivity reactions to glutamate in foods ; BfR opinion of July 16, 2003; accessed on November 15, 2014
  12. Knowledge forum for baked goods: “Clean Label” - From a practical perspective ( Memento of the original from July 22, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed November 14, 2014 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.wissensforum-backwaren.de
  13. Emnid survey: misleading information on packaging , survey period: February 11 to 12, 2008, accessed on November 15, 2014