Food-tasting "electronic tongue" seeks out the spice
If you worked as a taste-tester of spicy foods, you'd only be able to try a few samples at a time – after that, your taste buds would become desensitized and need a rest. A newly-developed "electronic tongue," however, can accurately measure the spiciness of multiple foods for hours at a time.
Developed by scientists at Washington State University, the e-tongue was recently tested on samples of paneer cheese containing different levels of capsaicin. When compared to volunteers who were tasting those same samples, it was found that the device could correctly detect capsaicin levels long after the point at which human taste buds simply "gave out."
Additionally, the e-tongue is claimed to not only provide more objective measurements than human taste-testers, but also to be better at detecting subtle spiciness differences in both lightly- and heavily-spiced foods. That said, the device's creators believe that there will still be a place for people in the assessment of the flavor of spicy foods. The new technology would be aimed more at streamlining the process.
"[It] would allow testers to narrow a selection down to two or three samples for a human tasting panel if they start from 20 different formulations," says researcher Courtney Schlossareck. "That would take days to do with people tasting them."
A paper on the e-tongue was recently published in the Journal of Food Science.
Source: Washington State University