Sweet Green Fields Develops the ‘Intelligent Tongue Technology’ to Improve Evaluation of Tasting Steviol Glycoside Combinations

Oct 30, 2017

(BELLINGHAM, WASH.) – October 26, 2017 – Sweet Green Fields (SGF), a leading producer of innovative stevia sweeteners, is developing intelligent tongue technology applied to stevia. This technology uses ion channels to evaluate the taste of stevia and the formulations in which it is included. The project will enable SGF to identify the most optimized combinations of steviol glycosides at specific ratios in a given food or beverage by using high-throughput screening. The technology can also help specify the taste modulators that have high synergistic effects with stevia to improve the overall taste of a certain food product.

There are numerous studies defining taste buds and receptors located throughout the human tongue with the aim of understanding their specific function. However, few studies have focused on how taste is perceived by looking into the ion channels that transmit the electrical signals triggered by compounds, including sweeteners, in the extracellular matrix.

The “Intelligent Tongue Project” converts the signals to a descriptive taste profile of the sweetener, using the interaction of sugar with the ion channel as the control. Ion channels are pore-forming proteins that are present in the membranes of all cells. They mediate all neurophysiological reactions, such as the perception of taste. One study found that the ion channel TRPM5 responds to sweetening ingredients. When steviol glycosides bind to TRPM5, they activate calcium-mediated signals. From this project, SGF intends to screen the combinations of steviol glycosides that generate a signal closest to sugar in various applications, and thus customize the stevia products for different foods and beverages.

“Due to new technologies, there is a much deeper understanding of the complexity of the steviol glycosides, their interactions with one another and their combined modulating effects on the various receptors on the tongue,” said Mel Jackson, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, SGF. “Given the scientific evidence so far, it’s probable that the use of molecular research, specifically receptor and ion channel research, is vital to a deeper understanding of the steviol glycosides themselves and the possible synergies with other molecules that are already present in foods and beverages or could be added as co-effectors with the steviol glycosides.”

Stevia producers currently employ sensory panels and electronic tongue technology to filter the preferred combinations of steviol glycosides. However, the human tongue cannot evaluate the countless possible combinations of steviol glycosides quickly enough to help drive most product development. In addition, electronic tongue technologies cannot imitate the neurophysiological reaction of the human taste buds accurately.

“While testing techniques such as sensory panels and electronic tongue technology currently provide us with a way to identify ideal combinations of steviol glycosides, they do pose some limitations,” said Dr. Jackson. “Sweet Green Fields is in the fortunate position of being able to add this evolving technology to its existing molecular research program to effectively provide our customers with better-tasting stevia solutions.”

SGF is committed to providing food and beverage manufacturers with more innovative, great-tasting stevia ingredients. In addition to their strategic investment in the “Intelligent Tongue Project,” the company established a distribution partnership with Tate & Lyle, a leading global provider of specialty food ingredients and solutions. This new partnership provides manufacturers with more sweetening solutions to choose from and Tate & Lyle’s decades of sweetener formulation expertise.

“We are thrilled to partner with a true innovator in the stevia space,” said Abigail Storms, Vice President, Sweetener Platform Innovation, Tate & Lyle. “With world-class agriculture, science and manufacturing, SGF has led the market in stevia sweetener innovation. As this new technology progresses, it will enable us to optimize our stevia offerings to ensure we provide customers with an ingredient portfolio that provides the extraordinary taste and great cost in use needed to meet their formulation requirements.”

For more information on the stevia ingredients available through SGF and Tate & Lyle, visit

About Sweet Green Fields

Sweet Green Fields is one of the leading global innovators of stevia leaf extracts. Sweet Green Fields’ focus on innovation began in 1999 with the creation of improved stevia varieties through an extensive plant breeding program. This early establishment of proprietary stevia leaf has enabled Sweet Green Fields’ commitment to its “taste the extraordinary” program, pursuing the goal of creating the most sugar-like taste from stevia leaf. SGF’s broad product portfolio of stevia extracts meets customer’s demand from all consumer perspectives: taste, low or zero calorie, cost and sustainability.  


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