Researchers at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom have identified reduced taste sensations in trials conducted in loud venues. The results published in the science journal, Food Quality and Preference , found that subjects enjoyed the taste of food more when they enjoyed the background music.
They also found that the intensity and strength of flavours decreased as background noise levels rose.
These findings are of considerable interest to café and restaurant owners, who may need to reconsider the ambience and sound environment of their establishments.
One aspect with possible application is that loud background noise lowers perceptions of saltiness. This should lead to those who want their food salty to add more salt in noisy conditions, which, if it is a bar situation, could increase the volume of drink sold.
Another detail of the research, one that may be of pressing interest to salad-bar operators, is that loud background noise interferes with the perception of crunchy food. It appears that if we can’t actually hear the crunch, we don’t believe it is crunchy.
Ref: A.T. Woods, E. Poliakoff, D.M. Lloyd, J. Kuenzel, R. Hodson, H. Gonda, J. Batchelor, G.B. Dijksterhuis, A. Thomas; Effect of background noise on food perception. Food Quality and Preference. In press.