Factors affecting flavor perception in space: Does the spacecraft environment influence food intake by astronauts?
Taylor AJ., Beauchamp JD., Briand L., Heer M., Hummel T., Margot C., McGrane S., Pieters S., Pittia P., Spence C.
© 2020 Institute of Food Technologists® The intention to send a crewed mission to Mars involves a huge amount of planning to ensure a safe and successful mission. Providing adequate amounts of food for the crew is a major task, but 20 years of feeding astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have resulted in a good knowledge base. A crucial observation from the ISS is that astronauts typically consume only 80% of their daily calorie requirements when in space. This is despite daily exercise regimes that keep energy usage at very similar levels to those found on Earth. This calorie deficit seems to have little effect on astronauts who spend up to 12 months on the ISS, but given that a mission to Mars would take 30 to 36 months to complete, there is concern that a calorie deficit over this period may lead to adverse effects in crew members. The key question is why astronauts undereat when they have a supply of food designed to fully deliver their nutritional needs. This review focuses on evidence from astronauts that foods taste different in space, compared to on Earth. The underlying hypothesis is that conditions in space may change the perceived flavor of the food, and this flavor change may, in turn, lead to underconsumption by astronauts. The key areas investigated in this review for their potential impact on food intake are the effects of food shelf life, physiological changes, noise, air and water quality on the perception of food flavor, as well as the link between food flavor and food intake.