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Off-flavours are taints in food products caused by the presence of undesirable compounds. They can originate in raw materials, from chemical changes during food processing and storage, and from micro-organisms. Off-flavours are a recurring issue in drinking water supply and many food products.

Water bodies are often affected by geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol, affecting the flavour of water for drinking and of fish growing in that water.[1] Haloanisoles similarly affect water bodies, and are a recognised cause of off-flavour in wine.[2] Cows grazing on weeds such as wild garlic can produce a ‘weedy’ off-flavour in milk.[3]

Many more examples can be seen throughout food production sectors including in oats, coffee, glucose syrup and brewing.


  1. ^ Robin, J. et al. (2006). Off flavour characterization and origin in French trout farming. Aquaculture, 260(1–4)
  2. ^ Collins, T. S. et al. (2012). Analysis of Haloanisoles in Corks and Wines. In S. Toth & C. Mussinan (Eds.), Recent Advances in the Analysis of Food and Flavors (pp. 109–127). American Chemical Society.
  3. ^ Ridgway, K. (n.d.). Avoiding Customer Complaints: Origins of Food Taints and Off-flavours. RSSL.