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Does High Fat Mean High Flavor?

Ice cream connoisseurs may insist that cecream with more fat tastes better, but food scientists find that people generally cannot tell the difference between fat levels in ice creams.

In a series of taste tests, participants were unable to distinguish a 2 percent cut in fat level in two vanilla ice cream samples as long as the samples were in the 6 to 12 percent fat-level range. Subjects were, however, able to detect a 4 percent difference between ice creams in this fat-level range.

"Fat is always the most expensive bulk ingredient of ice cream," says John Coupland, professor of food science. "If you were in charge of an ice cream brand, this information may help you decide if you are getting any advantage of having high fat in your product, or whether it's worth the economic cost, or worth the brand risk, to change the fat level of your ice cream."

--Matt Swayne