Fruit & vegetable taste testing

Schools and employers can offer taste tests of fruits and vegetables in cafeterias, nutrition classes, school gardens, or workplace well-being meetings as a way to increase exposure to a variety of fresh produce. Taste testing opportunities are usually offered as part of a multi-component intervention. Parents can provide their children with taste testing opportunities at home.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased fruit & vegetable consumption

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved nutrition

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that taste testing fruits and vegetables as part of a multi-component intervention increases fruit and vegetable consumption among children, adolescents, and adults (, , French 2003, , EBHPP-Ciliska 1999, CDC-MS FFVP). Taste testing fruits and vegetables is a suggested strategy to improve nutrition (CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011, Cancer Control PLANET, WIPAN-Schools, WIPAN-Worksites). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Willingness to eat vegetables increases among 2 to 6 year olds whose parents provide them with taste testing opportunities (Wardle 2003). Exposure to and taste tests of fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase liking and consumption of fruits and vegetables among children overall (). Taste testing combined with cooking demonstrations in small food stores can increase healthy food purchasing and willingness to try unfamiliar foods among consumers of all ages (Gittelsohn 2012).

When taste testing is part of a multi-component intervention, students’ preference for and consumption of fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase (, French 2003, ). In a Mississippi-based study, taste testing fruits and vegetables has also been shown to increase students’ familiarity with and willingness to try fruits and vegetables in some instances (CDC-MS FFVP).     

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

There are a number of programs and organizations in the US that facilitate taste testing opportunities. The national Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) offers free fresh fruits and vegetables to all children in participating schools throughout the school day (USDA-FFVP). Taste testing also frequently happens in conjunction with farm to school lunchroom activities, in school gardens, and with food promotion activities (USDA-F2S).

Researchers have developed new tools to help capture changes in students’ willingness to try fruits and vegetables through food tasting activities, particularly in a classroom or afterschool setting ().

Implementation Resources

USDA-FFVP - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Fresh fruit and vegetable program (FFVP).

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

WIPAN-Schools - Wisconsin Nutrition and Physical Activity Program (WIPAN). What works in schools.

WIPAN-Worksites - Wisconsin Nutrition and Physical Activity (WIPAN). What works in worksites.

Knai 2006* - Knai C, Pomerleau J, Lock K, McKee M. Getting children to eat more fruit and vegetables: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine. 2006;42(2):85-95.

CDC-MS FFVP - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mississippi fresh fruit and vegetable program.

Cancer Control PLANET - Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T. School-based behavioral interventions are recommended to increase vegetable and fruit consumption among youth.

EBHPP-Ciliska 1999 - Ciliska D, Miles E, O’Brien MA, et al. The effectiveness of community interventions to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in people four years of age and older. Ontario, CAN: Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP); 1999.

CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases: The CDC guide to strategies to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2011.

Burchett 2003* - Burchett H. Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among British primary schoolchildren: A review. Health Education. 2003;103(2):99-109.

French 2003 - French SA, Stables G. Environmental interventions to promote vegetable and fruit consumption among youth in school settings. Preventive Medicine. 2003;37(6):593-610.

Davis 2009* - Davis EM, Weber Cullen K, Watson KB, Konarik M, Radcliffe J. A fresh fruit and vegetable program improves high school students' consumption of fresh produce. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109(7):1227-31.

Wardle 2003 - Wardle J, Cooke LJ, Gibson EL, et al. Increasing children's acceptance of vegetables; a randomized trial of parent-led exposure. Appetite. 2003;40(2):155-62.

Cooke 2007* - Cooke L. The importance of exposure for healthy eating in childhood: A review. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2007;20(4):294-301.

Gittelsohn 2012 - Gittelsohn J, Rowa M, Gadhoke P. Interventions in small food stores to change the food environment, improve diet, and reduce risk of chronic disease. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2012;9:110015.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

USDA-FFVP - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Fresh fruit and vegetable program (FFVP).

USDA-F2S - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Farm to school (F2S).

Kaiser 2012* - Kaiser LL, Schneider C, Mendoza C, et al. Development and use of an evaluation tool for taste-testing activities by school-aged children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112(12):2028-34.

Date Last Updated

Jan 8, 2014