The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Background: We identified a model system that exploits the inherent taste variation in early feedings to investigate food preference development.
Objective: The objective was to determine whether exposure to differing concentrations of taste compounds in milk and formulas modifies acceptance of exemplars of the 5 basic taste qualities in a familiar food matrix. Specifically, we examined the effects of consuming hydrolyzed casein formulas (HCFs), which have pronounced bitter, sour, and savory tastes compared with breast milk (BM) and bovine milk–based formulas (MFs), in which these taste qualities are weaker.
Design: Subgroups of BM-, MF- and HCF-fed infants, some of whom were fed table foods, were studied on 6 occasions to measure acceptance of sweet, salty, bitter, savory, sour, and plain cereals.
Results: In infants not yet eating table foods, the HCF group ate significantly more savory-, bitter-, and sour-tasting and plain cereals than did the BM or MF groups. HCF infants displayed fewer facial expressions of distaste while eating the bitter and savory cereals, and they and BM infants were more likely to smile while they were eating the savory cereal. In formula-fed infants eating table foods, preferences for the basic tastes reflected the types of foods they were being fed. In general, those infants who ate more food displayed fewer faces of distaste.
Conclusions: The type of formula fed to infants has an effect on their response to taste compounds in cereal before solid food introduction. This model system of research investigation sheds light on sources of individual differences in taste and perhaps cultural food preferences.
Mennella, Julie A.; Forestell, Catherine A.; Morgan, Lindsay K.; and Beauchamp, Gary K., Early Milk Feeding Influences Taste Acceptance and Liking During Infancy (2009). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(3), 780S-788S.