Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1829–1840 | Cite as

Children's sensitivity to odor of trimethylamine

  • Egil H. Solbu
  • Finn Konow Jellestad
  • Knut Olav Strætkvern


Findings in this paper show a strong correlation between subjects' age and their olfactory sensitivity to the “fishy” odor of trimethylamine, with youngest subjects being most sensitive and adult subjects least sensitive to this odor. This was due to a high percentage of highly sensitive subjects in the youngest age groups; this percentage decreased with age. Data further support the notion that trimethylamine sensitivity is independent of sex. The sensitivity to trimethylamine per se showed no significant covariations with the subjects' preferences for or aversions against fish as food and is probably of minor importance for fish food acceptability.

Key words

Odor sensitivity trimethylamine children 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Albone, E.S., andFox, M.W. 1971. Anal gland secretion of the red fox.Nature 233:569–570.Google Scholar
  2. Amoore, J.E., andForrester, L.J. 1976. Specific anosmia to trimethylamine: The fishy primary odor.J. Chem. Ecol. 2:49–56.Google Scholar
  3. Amoore, J.E., Venstrom, D., andDavis, A.R. 1968. Measurement of specific anosmia.Percept.Mot. Skills 26:143–164.Google Scholar
  4. Castell, C.H., Smith, B., andDyer, W.J. 1974. Simultaneous measurements of trimethylamine and dimethylamine in fish, and their use for estimating quality of frozen-stored gadoid fillets.J. Fish. Res. Board Can. 31:383–389.Google Scholar
  5. Fiskeridirektoratet, Avdeling for Kvalitetskontroll. 1986.Kvalitetsforskrift for Fisk og Fiskevarer 40–44.Google Scholar
  6. Freier, R.K., 1976. Aqueous Solutions. Data for Inorganic and Organic Compounds, Vol. 1. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, p. 377.Google Scholar
  7. Gellermann, L.W., 1933. Chance orders of alternating stimuli in visual discrimination experiments.J. Genet. Psychol. 42:206–208.Google Scholar
  8. Gilbert, A.N., andWysocki, C.J. 1987. The smell survey results.Nat. Geogr. 172:514–525.Google Scholar
  9. Huss, H.H. 1983. Fersk Fisk-Kvalitet og Holdbarhed. Fiskeriministeriets Forsøgslaboratorium, Lyngby.Google Scholar
  10. Jellestad, F.K., andSolbu, E.H. 1987. Barns forhold til fisk som middagsmat i norske husholdninger. Unpublished report to the Norwegian Fisheries Research Council, NFFR project III 111.002.Google Scholar
  11. Jones, N.R. 1967. Fish flavors, pp. 267–295in H.W. Schultz, E.A. Day, and L.M. Libbey (eds.). Symposium on Foods: The Chemistry and Physiology of Flavors. AVI Publishing Comp., Westport, Connecticut.Google Scholar
  12. Leonardos, G., Kendall, D., andBarnard, N. 1969. Odor threshold determinations of 53 odorant chemicals. J. Air Pollut. Control Assoc. 19:91–95.Google Scholar
  13. (The) Merck Index. 1983. 10th ed., p. 1387. Merck & Co., Rahway, New lersey.Google Scholar
  14. Murphy, C. 1987. Olfactory psychophysics,in T.E. Finger and W.L. Silver (eds.). Neurobiology of Taste and Smell. John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Pangborn, R.M., Trabue, I.M., andBarylko-Pikielna, N. 1967. Taste, odor, and tactile discrimination before and after smoking.Percept. Psychophys. 2:529–532.Google Scholar
  16. Ritskes, T.M. 1975. Gas chromatographical determination of trimethylamine and dimethylamine in fish, fishery products and other foodstuffs.J. Food Technol. 10:221–228.Google Scholar
  17. Shewan, J.M., Gibson, D.M., andMurray, C.K. 1971. The estimation of trimethylamine in fish muscle, pp. 183–186in R. Kreuzer (ed.). Fish Inspection & Quality Control. Fishing News Limited, London.Google Scholar
  18. Smith, J.G.M., Hardy, R., Thomson, A.B., Young, K.W., andParsons, E. 1980. Some observations on the ambient and chill storage of blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou), pp. 299–303in J.J. Connell (ed.). Advances in Fish Science and Technology. Fishing News Books Ltd., Farnham.Google Scholar
  19. Standsby, M.E. 1962. Speculations on fish odors and flavors.Food Technol. 16:28–32. StatSoft, Inc., 1988. CSS (Complete Statistical System, 2nd ed.). Tulsa, Oklahoma.Google Scholar
  20. Tereshchenko, A.G., andChemeris, L.A. 1975. The solubility of methylammonium halides in water in the range 0–80 °C.Russ J. Phys. Chem. 49:2457.Google Scholar
  21. Venstrom, D., andAmoore, J.E. 1968. Olfactory threshold in relation to age, sex or smoking.J. Food Sci. 33:264–265.Google Scholar
  22. Vierling, J.S., andRock, J. 1967. Variations in olfactory sensitivity to exaltolide during the menstrual cycle.J. Appl. Physiol. 22:311–315.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Egil H. Solbu
    • 1
  • Finn Konow Jellestad
    • 1
  • Knut Olav Strætkvern
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Physiological PsychologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

Personalised recommendations