Community in Action
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 healthy foods, both fresh and prepared. 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
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 adults1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Taste testing fruits and vegetables is a suggested strategy to improve nutrition8, 9, 10. However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.
Exposure to and taste tests of fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase liking and consumption of fruits and vegetables among children overall11, and may positively increase children’s healthy eating behaviors over the long-term12. Willingness to eat vegetables increases among 2 to 6 year olds whose parents provide them with taste testing opportunities13. 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 ages14.
Hands-on approaches that include taste testing such as cooking demonstrations and gardening activities are more effective than nutrition education alone to encourage children to taste unfamiliar foods12. Experts suggest involving students in food preparation decisions and offering different cooked preparations may improve palatability, increase tasting, and sustain consumption over time, especially for vegetables1, 15, 16. Combining vegetables with other healthy fats, proteins, and whole grain products can also increase palatability and encourage tasting novel foods or food combinations12.
When taste testing is part of a multi-component intervention, students’ preference for and consumption of fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase3, 4, 5. 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 instances7.
Among 12-36 month olds, offering sensory experiences with food beyond tasting during playtime increases familiarity and tasting of vegetables in subsequent mealtime exposure17.
Impact on Disparities
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 day18. Cooking with Kids is a hands-on nutrition education program offering over 5,000 children in Northern New Mexico opportunities to taste, explore, and discover new healthy foods19. Taste testing also frequently happens in conjunction with farm to school lunchroom activities, in school gardens, and with food promotion activities20.
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 setting21.
USDA-FFVP - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Fresh fruit and vegetable program (FFVP).
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1 Snelling 2017* - Snelling AM, Newman C, Ellsworth D, et al. Using a taste-test intervention to promote vegetable consumption. Health Behavior and Policy Review. 2016;4(1):67-75.
2 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.
3 Burchett 2003* - Burchett H. Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among British primary schoolchildren: A review. Health Education. 2003;103(2):99-109.
4 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.
5 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.
6 Ciliska 2000* - Ciliska D, Miles E, O’Brien MA, et al. Effectiveness of community-based interventions to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2000;32(6):341–352.
7 CDC-MS FFVP - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mississippi fresh fruit and vegetable program.
8 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.
9 WIPAN-Schools - Wisconsin Nutrition and Physical Activity Program (WIPAN). What works in schools.
10 WIPAN-Worksites - Wisconsin Nutrition and Physical Activity (WIPAN). What works in worksites.
11 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.
12 DeCosta 2017 - DeCosta P, Møller P, Frøst MB, Olsen A. Changing children’s eating behaviour - A review of experimental research. Appetite. 2017;113:327-357.
13 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.
14 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.
15 Colas 2013* - Colas MV, Vaccaro JA, Zarini GG, Huffman FG. Impact of vegetable preparation method and taste-test on vegetable preference for first grade children in the United States. International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition. 2013;(2):316-325.
16 Schindler 2013* - Schindler JM, Corbett D, Forestell CA. Assessing the effect of food exposure on children’s identification and acceptance of fruit and vegetables. Eating Behaviors. 2013;14(1):53-56.
17 Dazeley 2015 - Dazeley P, Houston-Price C. Exposure to foods’ non-taste sensory properties. A nursery intervention to increase children’s willingness to try fruit and vegetables. Appetite. 2015;84:1-6.
18 USDA-FFVP - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Fresh fruit and vegetable program (FFVP).
19 Cooking with Kids - Cooking with Kids. Cooking with Kids educates and empowers children and families to make healthy food choices through hands-on learning with fresh, affordable foods.
20 USDA-F2S - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Farm to school (F2S).
21 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.
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