Whey Protein Ready-to-Drink (RTD) beverages are popular nutritional products due to their high protein content, complete amino acid profile, convenience, and flavor. However, astringency imparted by whey protein in these beverages can significantly reduce consumer liking. Whey protein astringency can be attributed to loss of oral lubrication, increased oral friction due to whey-saliva protein aggregates, and high acid content of these beverages. Astringency masking in acidic whey RTDs cannot be masked the same way as neutral pH whey beverages at the consequence of turbidity. Astringency is a complex problem, so it may require a multi-faceted solution. Prototypes will be created through Response Surface Methodology (RSM), utilizing parameters determined to reduce astringency during preliminary work. These might include enzyme-modified stevia and sweet protein flavor modifiers like thaumatin and brazzein. Prototypes will be assessed by a trained quantitative descriptive analysis (QDA) panel, a consumer acceptance panel, and a focus group. The QDA panel will be trained to identify and quantify astringency in prototype samples. The consumer panel and focus group will use consumers who seek out “clean label” products to quantify liking and purchase intent of the prototype beverage formulations based on the generated nutrition facts and ingredients lists after sampling. The prototypes will also be instrumentally measured for pH, brix, zeta potential, and particle size. QDA data will be statistically analyzed to determine whether astringency was significantly reduced in any of the prototypes. Consumer sensory and focus group data will be reviewed to verify astringency reduction is related to consumer preference. Analytical measurements of the prototypes will be statistically compared for differences in physical properties that are related to reduced astringency.
- Literature review of astringency and whey protein beverages to identify short-comings and possible clean label solutions
- Formulation of control and clean label whey protein ready-to-drink (RTD) prototypes to determine factors to reduce astringency in acidic protein beverages
- Use trained quantitative descriptive analysis panel to quantify astringency reduction in acidic protein drinks containing prospective clean-label astringency maskers
- Conduct consumer sensory panel and focus group panel to assess overall acceptability and validate clean-label assessment of formulas