Events Diary

Can humans smell tastants?
Wednesday 06 March 2024, 12:00 - 14:00
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Jingang Shi is the founder and CEO of EPC Natural Products Co., Ltd, a leading food ingredients company specializing in innovative natural sweetener solutions that include stevia, thaumatin, and taste &flavor modulators. Recognaized as one of top-tier inventors, Jingang has significantly contributed to improving the taste of stevia. He received master degree of chemical engineering from Beijing University of Chemical Technology and EMBA from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.

Over the past five years, Jingang formulated a groundbreaking hypothesis that taste stimuli could be perceived through retronasal olfaction. In support of this theory, EPC funded scientific research, spearheaded by accomplished scientists, to delve into the mechanism of transferring and brain responses of retronasal sensation of taste stimuli and its profound impact on the flavor profile of food and beverage products. Part of outcomes of these studies have been published academic journals, including "Chemical Senses" and "Food Quality and Preference."

Beyond his role at EPC, Jingang is member of China National Standardization Technical Committees of Sensory Analysis. He serves as PhD advisor of Zhejiang Gongshang University. He is a veteran of natural ingredients, holding a board member at Ningbo Greenhealth Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., a herb extract manufacturer catering to the food supplement industry. Furthermore, he acts as a director at Wuhan Greenfoods Co., Ltd., a food ingredient company specializing in natural food coloring manufacturing.


The current paradigm in sensory science centers on dichotomy, non-volatile taste stimuli with the tongue's gustatory sensation and the volatile aroma with the nose’s olfactory sensation. While research has explored the interplay among taste, tactile sensations, and aroma, the underlying biological mechanisms remain unclear. Interestingly, some studies have observed a significant reduction in taste stimuli recognition when noses are clipped, yet a comprehensive scientific explanation is lacking. A recent study conducted by EPC and the Laboratory of Food Oral Processing at Zhejiang Gongshang University has delved into the role of retro-nasal sensation in the consumption of nonvolatile taste compounds. The study introduces aerosol particles as a potential mechanism for nasal mass transfer during eating and drinking, demonstrating that these particles can be generated and migrate within the oral–retronasal route. The research suggests that taste compounds within aerosol particles can be perceived through the ortho and retronasal  olfactory routes, challenging the conventional separation of taste and smell. The findings indicate that nonvolatile taste compounds, when carried in aerosol particles, influence sensory perception, impacting taste discrimination, sweetness intensity, and overall liking. The study also underscores potential implications for food and beverage design, proposing that adjustments to aerosol generation could modify retro-nasal impact. In essence, this research unveils the intricate dynamics of taste and smell interactions, introducing the new concept of unichemosensation and underscoring the significance of retro-nasal sensation in shaping our eating and drinking experiences.

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