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Now, 'magnetic tongue' to help produce tastier processed foods

October 27, 2011 - Washington

Smelling and tasting are no longer restricted to humans and animals only, with the emergence of futuristic "e-sensing" devices.

After the"electronic nose," which detects odours, scientists have now come up with a "magnetic tongue"- a method used to "taste" food and identify ingredients that people describe as sweet, bitter, sour, etc.

Trained taste testers eliminate some of the variation, but food processors need more objective ways to measure the sensory descriptor of their products.

That's where electronic sensing technologies, like E-noses, come into play.

However, current instruments can only analyze certain food components and require very specific sample preparation.

To overcome these shortcomings, Antonio Randazzo and Anders Malmendal's team turned to nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to test its abilities as "a magnetic tongue."

The researchers analysed 18 canned tomato products from various markets with NMR and found that the instrument could estimate most of the tastes assessed by the human taste testers. In fact, the NMR instrument went even farther.

By determining the chemical composition, it showed which compound is related to which sensory descriptor.

The researchers say that the "magnetic tongue" has good potential as a rapid, sensitive and relatively inexpensive approach for food processing companies to use.

The report appeared in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


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