Custom-made texture and flavour result in bitter masking swallowing gel


Custom-made texture and flavour result in bitter masking swallowing gel

We provide custom-made solutions for texture and flavour, evaluated by our consumer sensory panels. In this concrete example, a gel has been developed that eases swallowing and masks/reduces bitter taste.


Pharmaceutically active ingredients often have a bitter taste. When pills are swallowed as such, this bitter taste is not or barely perceived. However, when patients – often elderly people or children - have difficulties to swallow pills, it can be a solution for some types of oral medication to grind or crush tablets into powder. This powder is then often mixed with food, such as apple sauce or yoghurt. Unfortunately, the bitter taste can then be strongly perceived and can be very aversive. Furthermore, unwanted interaction between the food and the medical compounds is possible. Therefore, intake with a good tasting gel, that eases swallowing of whole pills and powders, that does not interact with the medical compounds, and that masks/reduces bitter taste is desirable.

Research aim

IMS Medical produces medicine grinders, which are used in nursery homes and hospitals all over the world. Grinding by hand is laborious and potentially harmful for the nurses. In order to complement their grinding equipment and disposables, IMS Medical assigned Wageningen Food and Biobased Research to develop a “swallowing gel to ease the intake of both tablets and powders”.

Product development

The product development at WFBR consisted of several stages: literature research, development of different textures by variations and combinations of thickeners, development of many taste varieties by variation of ingredients, selection of most promising texture and taste combinations, sensory tests with 26 elderly people familiar to intake of medication. The consumer test results were statistically evaluated and the two concepts « anise » and « coffee » in a transparent gel were selected for final optimization.


  • A gel that eases the swallowing of tablets and powders, with a quick passage of medication through the throat
  • Suitable for diabetics and patients with common food allergies
  • Transparent and stable gel with long shelf life
  • Masks bitter taste of medication
  • Taste and texture selected by consumer panel of elderly people
  • Two flavourings: anise and coffee
  • IMS Medical successfully introduced their bitterness masking swallowing gel called “Severo Swallowing gel” on the market in June 2018


With our expertise, we can provide solutions to develop products with custom-made texture and flavour. The products can be evaluated by our consumer sensory panels.