Physical approaches to masking bitter taste: Lessons from food and pharmaceuticals

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Many drugs and desirable phytochemicals are bitter, and bitter tastes are aversive. Food and pharmaceutical manufacturers share a common need for bitterness-masking strategies that allow them to deliver useful quantities of the active compounds in an acceptable form and in this review we compare and contrast the challenges and approaches by researchers in both fields. We focus on physical approaches, i.e., micro- or nano-structures to bind bitter compounds in the mouth, yet break down to allow release after they are swallowed. In all of these methods, the assumption is the degree of bitterness suppression depends on the concentration of bitterant in the saliva and hence the proportion that is bound. Surprisingly, this hypothesis has only rarely been fully tested using a combination of adequate human sensory trials and measurements of binding. This is especially true in pharmaceutical systems, perhaps due to the greater experimental challenges in sensory analysis of drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2921-2939
Number of pages19
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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