University of Portsmouth research indicates colour of plates and bowls can influence food taste for fussy eaters

The dish food is served in can play a big part in how it tastes, research suggests

Research carried out by the University of Portsmouth has discovered the colour of the bowl in which food is served also influences taste perception, alongside things like food smell and texture.

The experiment comprised nearly 50 people to measure their food neophobia, which is a reluctance to eat or try new food. The participants, who were divided into picky and non-picky eaters, then tasted the same snacks served in red, white and blue bowls. Results revealed that both the perceived saltiness and desirability of the foods were influenced by colour in the picky group, but not the non-picky group.

Dr Lorenzo Stafford from the department of psychology at the university, said: ‘Having restricted diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies as well as health problems like heart disease and dental issues. There is also a social cost because enjoyable moments between family members can easily turn into stressful, conflict-causing situations when picky eaters feel ashamed or pressured.

‘This knowledge could be useful for those trying to expand the repertoire of foods. For example, if you wanted to encourage a picky eater to try more vegetables well known to be viewed as bitter, you could attempt to serve them on a plate or bowl that is known to increase sweetness.’

The snack was rated as higher in saltiness in the red and blue versus white bowl, and least desirable when served in the red bowl. In the UK, salty snacks are often sold in blue packaging, and this might explain some of the findings.

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