Vegetables are an important but under consumed part of a healthy diet. There is growing interest in promoting vegetable acceptance and consumption among infants to help establish life-long healthy eating patterns. A recent survey of commercial baby food products in the United States by Moding and colleagues revealed a lack of variety in the types of vegetables offered. Most notably, there were no commercially available single, dark green vegetable products. Instead, dark green vegetables were often mixed with fruits or red/orange vegetables (e.g., squash) that provide additional sweetness. In order for liking for vegetables to be learned, the flavors from the vegetables must still be perceptible within the mixture. Thus, the objective of the research reported here was to understand the sensory profiles of vegetable-containing Stage 2 infant products commercially available in the United States and how ingredient composition affects flavor profiles. We performed descriptive analysis to quantitatively profile the sensory properties of 21 commercial vegetable-containing infant foods and one prepared in our laboratory. Eleven experienced panelists participated in 14.5 h of lexicon generation and training prior to rating all 22 products (in triplicate) for 14 taste, flavor, and texture attributes. Products that contained fruit were not only sweeter than products that did not contain fruit but were also higher in fruit flavors and lower in vegetable flavors. In general, sensory profiles were driven by the first ingredient in the product. Because few products had dark green vegetables as a first ingredient, dark green vegetable flavor was not prevalent in this category. This suggests the sensory profiles of commercially available infant vegetables foods may not be adequate to facilitate increased acceptance of green vegetables.
Keywords: Baby food; Descriptive analysis; Fruit; Infant; Sweetness; Vegetables.
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