"Electronic tongue" has a taste for hinky honey
It's possible that the honey you buy in the supermarket isn't pure – unscrupulous suppliers will often dilute it with cheaper substances such as corn syrup or molasses, in order to stretch their honey supplies farther. An "electronic tongue," however, is claimed to detect such added ingredients faster than ever before.
While there are already established methods of testing honey to see if it's been adulterated, the procedures can take up to several days. By contrast, via an "easy and cheap" process, the electronic tongue reportedly does its job in less than an hour.
Previously used to analyze fruit, the device was developed at Spain's Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), and it utilizes a technique known as voltammetric analysis. In a nutshell, this involves running a pulsed electrical current through samples, and analyzing the manner in which chemicals in those samples affect that current as its potential is varied.
By doing so, it's possible to quickly determine if substances such as syrups are present in honey samples, and (approximately) in what concentrations. Should the initial testing indicate that a sample is adulterated, more precise traditional analytical techniques can then be used to back up the finding.
"Our work offers a pioneering analytical technique that makes it possible to find out quickly and reliably the honey's authenticity," says UPV researcher Juan Soto. "We provide a solution to an important issue in the honeybee sector which is honey authenticity, which will make it possible to fight against unfair competition and guarantee the quality of the honey for the consumer."
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Food Control.
Scientists at the European Space Agency have taken a different approach to the same task, using lasers to analyze honey. And as a side note, electronic tongue technology has previously been utilized to inspect beer and wine.