Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In this paper, we review the empirical literature concerning the important question of whether or not food color influences taste and flavor perception in humans. Although a superficial reading of the literature on this topic would appear to give a somewhat mixed answer, we argue that this is, at least in part, due to the fact that many researchers have failed to distinguish between two qualitatively distinct research questions. The first concerns the role that food coloring plays in the perception of the intensity of a particular flavor (e.g., strawberry, banana, etc.) or taste attribute (e.g., sweetness, saltiness, etc.). The second concerns the role that food coloring plays in the perception of flavor identity. The empirical evidence regarding the first question is currently rather ambiguous. While some researchers have reported a significant crossmodal effect of changing the intensity of a food or drink's coloring on people's judgments of taste or flavor intensity, many others have failed to demonstrate any such effect. By contrast, the research findings concerning the second question clearly support the view that people's judgments of flavor identity are often affected by the changing of a food or drink's color (be it appropriate, inappropriate, or absent). We discuss the possible mechanisms underlying these crossmodal effects and suggest some of the key directions for future research in order to move our understanding in this area forward. © 2010 Springer Science + Business Media, LLC.

Original publication




Journal article


Chemosensory Perception

Publication Date





68 - 84