, Volume 13, Issue 9, pp 769-775
Date: 30 Oct 2009

Optimal preferred MSG concentration in potatoes, spinach and beef and their effect on intake in institutionalized elderly people

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Elderly people may benefit from sensory stimulation to increase food intake since anorexia of ageing is prevalent among them. An optimal MSG concentration may increase the palatability of foods but this depends on the food and chemosensory status of the taster. Currently, the results on taste enhancing to increase intake are inconsistent.


To find an optimal preferred MSG concentration in mashed potatoes, spinach and ground beef and to determine whether this concentration increases consumption of these foods among institutionalized elderly people.


Single blind within subject cross-over study performed at the laboratory and in the residents’ own apartments.


33 elderly and 29 young people in the sensory study and 53 elderly people in the intake study.


Pleasantness of the foods was rated of the foods each with 0, 0.5, 0.8, 1.3 and 2.0 g of MSG/100g. Intake was measured by weighing back leftovers of 2 meals with MSG (0.5% in mashed potatoes, 2% in spinach and ground meat) and without MSG.


0.5% MSG (p<0.05) was preferred in mashed potatoes but no optimal preferred concentration was found for spinach and ground beef, possibly because of their complex taste. Intake was not different between the foods with and without MSG or the total meal (all p>0.68).


MSG (0.5% and 2%) does not guarantee a higher intake among elderly. The chemosensory heterogeneity of the elderly population requires more individual flavor enhancement to improve the dietary intake and sensory experience.