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Healthy ageing: How changes in sensory physiology, sensory psychology
and socio-cognitive factors influence food choice

Contract number : QLK1-1999-00010
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 5.922.156
EC contribution : € 4.011.922
Starting date : 1/01/2000
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Rosanna d'Amario
Project website :
Prof. Dr Patrick A. Morrissey
National University of Ireland, Cork
University College Cork
Dept. of Food Science and Technology
Division of Nutritional Sciences
Western Road
Tel.: +353 21 490 24 06
Fax: +353 21 42 70 244
E-mail: p.morrissey @

A major societal challenge is to improve the quality of life and reduce disability and dependency in the ageing population. Large variations in age-adjusted incidence of major chronic diseases suggest strong environmental determinants, including diet. However, the consumer is the final judge of the acceptability of a food. Therefore, healthy ageing among all groups, but particularly in older people, will not be possible until the physiological factors and mechanisms of food choice and acceptance have been studied. This cluster project will define the sensory psychobiology, cognitive and social determinants of food choice, intake and enjoyment in different age groups and cultures. The data obtained will help to develop future nutrition policy and will improve the competitiveness of the EU food and drink sector.

  • To determine the degree and nature of changes, which occur during ageing, in the physiological capability of the senses which are used to perceive texture, other mouthfeel stimuli, odour and taste, and determine the influence of these changes in food perception
  • To understand the functioning of sensory memory and its role in food perception
  • To determine the influence of changes in sensory capability on food appreciation, and food intake in different situations
  • To provide information on the impact of sensory physiological ageing on choice of food
  • To understand the attitudes of elderly people with respect to issues relating to food choice, and how these may affect their behaviour
  • To understand the provisioning of food with respect to elderly people, and how this impinges on food choice
  • To determine the special needs of elderly people with respect to factors such as packaging, portion sizes, ease of preparation, pricing, social context, etc.
  • To establish the relative importance of sensory quality as a choice criterion versus other criteria, such as price, healthiness, branding etc.
  • To understand demographic and cross-cultural differences, both qualitatively and quantitatively, with respect to the issues raised above
  • To determine the difference between needs of full and part-time resident elderly people in a Mediterranean country
  • To identify improvements that can be made to food products to increase their acceptability
  • To provide guidelines to inform policy makers, the food industry and consumer groups who support the elderly on ways to develop and promote new food products that are both attractive and nutritionally tailored to older people
  • To contribute to the health and well-being of the rapidly growing population of ageing people in Europe.
(expected) Results and achievements

The project will:

  • meet the aspirations of the consumer by providing the scientific basis for foods which will promote well-being
  • contribute knowledge, which will be essential in realising the potential socio-economic benefits of promoting health through food
  • provide a basis for developing food and nutritional policies within the EU, also in relation to the ageing population
  • provide knowledge of physiological constraints, knowledge of changes in sensory perception and the value of sensory product attributes which will contribute to the targeting of commercial and public efforts to promote improved dietary intakes, health status and quality of life among EU consumers


Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences
Bornsesteeg 20
P.O. Box 57
6708 GW Wageningen
The Netherlands

INRA Theix
Unité de Recherche sur la Viande
63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle

Leatherhead Food Research Association
Randalls Road
KT22 7RY Leatherhead
United Kingdom

Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1
Neurosciences et Systèmes Sensoriels
43, Boulevard du 11 Novembre 1918
Bâtiment 404
69622 Villeurbanne

SIK Institutet for Livsmedel och Bioteknik AB
PO Box 5401
402 29 Gothenburg
INRA Nantes/Leima
Rue de la Géraudière
PO Box 71627
44316 Nantes Cedex 3
Wageningen Agricultural University
Division of Human Nutrition & Epidemiology
Bomenweg 2
PO Box 8129
6703 HD Wageningen The Netherlands
Laboratoire de Recherche sur les Arômes
17 Rue Sully
PO Box Bv 86510
21065 Dijon
Bioteknologisk Institut
Dept. of Sensory, Texture and Flavour
Holbergsvej 10
6000 Kolding
The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Department of Dairy and Food Science
Rolighedsvej 30
1958 Frederiksberg C
German Institute of Human Nutrition
Dept.of Intervention Studies
Arthur Scheunert-Allee 114/116
14558 Bergholz-Rehbrücke
Warsaw Agricultural University
Departement of Human Nutrition
Nowoursynowska Straße 166
02/787 Warsaw
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Departamento de Economia y Ciencias Sociales, Agrarias y Agrónomos
Ciudad Universitaria S/N
28040 Madrid
University of Helsinki
Department of Food Technology
Latokartanonkaar 7
PO Box 27
00014 University of Helsinki
Oxford Brookes University
Nutrition Research Group
School of Biological & Molecular Sciences
Gipsy Lane Campus
OX2 0BP Oxford
United Kingdom
Bestfood Europe Sprl
Knorrstraße 1
PO Box 2650
74074 Heilbronn
Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association
Consumer and Sensory Sciences
Station Road
GL55 6LD Chipping Campden
United Kingdom
Adriant Nantes
Rue Pierre Adolphe Bobierre
PO Box 62303
44323 Nantes Cedex 3
AINIA-Instituto Tecnológico Agroalimentario
Physico-Chemical and Sensory Laboratory
Valencia Parc Tecnologic s/n
Apdo. Correos 103
46980 Paterna (Valencia)
Laboratoire de recherche sur la consommation
65 Boulevard de Brandebourg
94205 Ivry
Universitat de Barcelona
Department of Social Anthropology
Baldiri Reixac, S/N
08028 Barcelona
Institute of European Food Studies
Trinity College
2 Dublin
VTT Biotechnology and Food Research
Tietotie 2
PO Box 1500
02044 VTT Espoo

Fifth Framework Programme

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