What is Flavoromics?

Flavoromics is derived from the fields of chemometrics and metabolomics– essentially the non-targeted approach of rapidly gathering an immense amount of data on a diverse sample set and then mining the data to understand complex problems. Data streams can come from volatile analysis, non-volatile analysis, NMR, sensory data, manufacturing specifications, etc. This approach combines cutting edge separation science, data handling and management, statistical modeling and variable selection to identify business relevant and actionable items.

Why do we need this new tool?

Our currently used discovery tools have largely brought us what they can deliver. Unfortunately, our current approach of isolation, separation and then sniffing or tasting fails to address some of our most pressing needs. For example, it is well recognized that significant synergy exists between various aroma compounds, between taste and aroma, and the food matrix and both taste and olfaction. Yet all of our existing tools involve the evaluation of individual sensory stimuli out of the food matrix and on an individual basis – this limitation must be challenged if we are to advance in our understanding.

What can we do?

FREC has developed high throughput data collection and analysis systems to address some of the most complicated questions facing our industry. For example, how does food age, and what do age associated markers mean for the flavor quality? How can un-targeted approaches unveil new flavor active materials? How do we formulate flavor systems to take advantage of the synergism and antagonism that occurs in perception? How can we better understand complex changes and act on them?

Is this really new?

Forty years ago John Powers pioneered a statistical approach to discriminating food flavors based on gas chromatographic analysis. A great deal has happened in the last 40 years, fueled largely by the medical and pharmaceutical fields. Metabolomics represents the culmination of these developments. We finally have the tools to do high throughput, trace analyses that represent both taste and olfaction stimuli. Today a single sample analysis will yield thousands of data points which are fed into sophisticated statistical analysis programs to tease out what stimuli are responsible for flavor – this is a revolutionary tool waiting to help you make better, truer to life flavorings and fragrances.