Picky Eater Boy - © buenasalud.net

Coloured Dishes May Entice Picky Eaters

Every Chef knows the old saying, “We eat first with our eyes.” That’s why the pros always exert major effort to make food look good, as well as taste good. A new study shows plate colour can be an important factor in pleasing picky eaters…

Blue Plates - © Food Matters Live

What they did

Dr. Madison Annette and Dr. Lorenzo Stafford of the University of Portsmouth, UK, wanted to know what effect the colour of plates and bowls would have on the acceptability to diners of various foods. They assembled a small corps of subjects some of whom were identified as picky eaters and others who were not. They were asked to taste several snacks, served on different-coloured plates.

Then the researchers asked the subjects to rate the saltiness and desirability of each food.

What they found

The abstract of the study report reveals: “[B]oth the perceived saltiness and desirability of the snack were influenced by colour in the Picky, but not Non-Picky Eaters. Specifically, the snack was rated as higher in saltiness in the red and blue versus white bowl condition, and least desirable when served in the red bowl.”

The takeaway

“These findings […] provide preliminary evidence that the perception of food in Picky Eaters depends on the serving receptacle colour and offer potentially simple interventions for those with a restricted food repertoire.”

One caveat…

But as every foodservice pro knows, restaurant plates are almost exclusively white. That’s because chefs want the freedom to create visual dining experiences on a plain, blank canvas. I wonder what a fancy-resto chef would say in response to a request by a guest that their food be served on a blue plate?

On the other hand, the guidelines that Annette and Stafford have identified could revolutionize dining experience of picky eaters during the 90+ percent of the time they dine at home.

~ Maggie J.