[American Society for Nutrition Satellite Symposium Report] Functional and Sensory Roles of Glutamate in Human Foods

May 2014

  • Date:April 25th, 2014 1:00PM - 5:00PM
  • Venue:Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Room Sapphire 400
  • Chair and Co-Chair
    Dr. Douglas Burrin (Professor, USDA Children's Nutrition Research Center, USA)
    Dr. Ana San Gabriel (Scientific Affairs, Umami Information Center, Japan)
  • Speakers
    Dr. Kumiko Ninomiya (Director, Umami Information Center, Japan)
    Dr. Yuzo Ninomiya (Professor, Kyushu University, Japan)
    Dr. Guoyao Wu (Professor, Texas A&M, USA)
    Dr. Douglas Burrin (Professor, USDA Children's Nutrition Research Center, USA)
    Dr. Julie Mennella (Member of Monell Chemical Senses Center, USA)
    Dr. Daniel Tome (PhD, INRA --AgroParis Tech, France)
  • Reporter:Dr. Ana San Gabriel (Scientific Affairs, Umami Information Center, Japan)
  • Participants:Around 50 clinical nutritionists, animal nutritionists, 2 invited chefs and dietitians.

From left to right: Guoyao Wu, Julie Mennella, Daniel Tome, Ana San Gabriel, Douglas Burrin, Kumiko Ninomiya and Yuzo Ninomiya

  • Although the appreciation of the unique taste properties of glutamate as the compound responsible for umami has spread in the last years among chefs and food lovers, the role of glutamate as a flavoring agent in foods and its metabolic and molecular actions in the body are not well understood yet among nutritionists and dietitians. Experimental Biology gathers every year scientists from 6 different American professional societies in the same roof, American Association of AAA, American Association of Anatomist, APS, The American Physiological Society, ASMBM, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ASIP, American Society for Investigative Pathology, ASN, American Society for Nutrition, ASPET, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. The UIC sponsored a satellite symposium as part of ASN with the intention to share with specialists scientific advances in the biology of umami taste and the functions of free glutamate. While taste is an important factor for people to accept foods independently of their nutritional or health value, the research fields of taste and nutrition hardly interact professionally with each other. Thus the UIC considered this year's ASN annual meeting as a good opportunity to make the link between the umami taste of glutamate and its relevant physiological signal to the brain. The recent discovery of taste glutamate receptors along the gastrointestinal tract, the established abundance of glutamate in human milk and its function as a major source of energy for the gut epithelial cells were also presented by the different speakers. As the highlight of the symposium, following our tradition in the UIC of teaching umami taste by experience, we had a reception with umami foods for participants and speakers, cherry tomatoes, young and old cheddar cheese, and prosciutto ham. In this occasion, everyone had also a chance to taste how monosodium glutamate enhances saltiness and rounds the taste the vegetable soup we usually make for tasting in the UIC, this time prepared by Chef and CIA lecturer Kyle Connaughton. This is probably the first time in Experimental Biology in which Chefs take active part on a scientific symposium. Connaughton and also CIA Chef and lecturer Ali Bonzari attended the symposium and helped with the discussion of umami among participants too.



  • From left to right: Guoyao Wu, Julie Mennella, Daniel Tome, Ana San Gabriel, Douglas Burrin, Kumiko Ninomiya and Yuzo Ninomiya

    Chefs Connaughton and Bouzari preparing the soup

    Talking with clinical nutritionists

    Tasting the vegetable soup

  • Chefs Connaughton and Bouzari preparing the soup

    Talking with clinical nutritionists

    Tasting the vegetable soup