Has your sense of smell or taste changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Researchers from Teagasc and UCD are working with sensory scientists from research institutions across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to understand how COVID-19 has affected people’s ability to smell and taste.

The Smell and Taste Evaluation in Ireland (STEVIE) survey was launched today, Tuesday, 7 July, in response to reports that COVID-19 can impact smell and taste function. The survey is open to anyone living in the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland, who has either experienced a change in their sense of smell or taste during the COVID-19 pandemic, or who has been tested for COVID-19 (either positive or negative).

Coordinator of the study, Dr Emily Crofton, Research Officer in the Department of Food Quality and Sensory Science at Teagasc, says: “A change or loss to our senses of smell or taste has been officially recognised as a common symptom of COVID-19 infection in Ireland. Emerging evidence suggests that COVID-19 may have a different effect on our senses of smell and taste when compared to other viruses, such as influenza or the common cold. At the moment, very little information is available about whether changes in smell or taste perception is impacting on daily life and personal well-being in Ireland. By participating in this survey, we aim to capture the changes in smell and taste that may have come about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Dr Emma Feeney, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Food and Health, UCD, explains: “Reports suggest that COVID-19 may be associated with longer-term taste and smell loss in some individuals. Since taste and smell loss can affect our ability to perceive flavour from foods, this may impact appetite in some people. This is particularly concerning in older people, who appear to be more impacted by COVID-19, and may have an increased risk of malnutrition compared to younger groups”.

The STEVIE survey is being organised through Sensory Food Network Ireland, which brings together researchers from research institutions across the island of Ireland. As coordinators of Sensory Food Network Ireland, Drs Eimear Gallagher and Sinéad McCarthy from Teagasc, add: “We are delighted to use this all-Island initiative to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on our smell/taste perception, the results of which will be of relevance to public health and the food industry”.

To complete the survey, please click on the following link: https://bit.ly/3e7RGIG.

For more information, please contact Dr Emily Crofton (emily.crofton@teagasc.ie) or Dr Emma Feeney (emma.feeney@ucd.ie).

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