The importance of food is obvious and essential but no one of us like the food that doesn’t taste good and delight. Every food industry ensures that good food reaches to the consumer that is highly acceptable in terms of quality as well as quantity. Consumers perceive food differently and to measure it sensory evaluation of food is done. Sensory evaluation is basically a science that measures, analyzes and interprets the reaction of people to product as perceived by the senses. The taste of food plays an important role in choice of food. The first impression of the food comes from the first bite of food that we take. Sensory analyst that performs analysis work is after all humans they can be tired sometimes or they may be ill which can result in faulty analysis. To overcome this problem up to certain point some advances are done that leads to development of ELECTRIC TONGUE.
Electric tongue is a sensing device which has the ability to sense non volatile chemicals just like human beings. It mimics the function of human tongue which performs the function of perceiving taste and flavor. It uses taste sensors to receive information from chemicals on tongue and send it to a pattern recognition system. It is used for the automatic analysis and recognition of liquids, identification of samples, estimation of concentration, and their characteristic properties.
Why do we need electric tongue? This is the question that arises when we start thinking but as we know there are various problems that are associated with the human senses such as individual variability, adaptation, infections, subjectivity, impossibility of on-line monitoring, fear of getting exposure to hazardous chemicals, mental state of person etc and this all can be overcome by E sensors.
Electronic tongue consists of three principal components which are sensory array, the equipment of emitting and receiving signals, and pattern recognition. This system imitates what is happening when molecules with specific taste nature interacts with taste buds on human tongue and in electronic tongue these taste buds are represented by sensors which interact with chemicals present in food and generates change in potential which are compared with physiological action potentials and get recorded by computer, which corresponds to the neural network at the physiological level. The data obtained by this process is further evaluated on the basis of already existing matrix of sensory responses which can be compared with human memory or association to already existing taste patterns.
The E tongue mirrors the three levels of biological taste recognition
- Inhuman taste buds are the receptor levels of chemicals whereas in E tongue probes membranes are present which accepts the chemicals associated with the food taste.
- Inhuman neural transmission acts as carrier level of potential generated whereas in E tongue transducer is present to carry out transmission process.
- Inhuman the recognition work occurs in thalamus part of the brain whereas in E tongue this work is done by computer and statistical analysis.
APPLICATIONSOF E TONGUE
· The designing of E tongue is very helpful in Research and development department of any food industry because it helps in accurate sensory analysis of food product consuming less time and also it is cost effective.
· It helps in new product formulation as it provides potential to evaluate taste during product formulation or to be used as a quality control tool.
· It can identify toxic materials or chemicals if present in food product.
· It can discriminate fresh milk from spoiled milk
· It can differentiate between different varieties of tomatoes by measuring crushed tomatoes.
· It can characterize various amino acids such like isoleucine, phenylalanine and leucine
· It can detect trace amounts of organic substances present
· It can differentiate between different brands of coffee of different origin
· It helps in analyzing the different wines for examples the tongue changes it color depending on how sweet or sour the vintage is.
· E tongue consist of various tiny beads designed to latch onto specific flavor molecules and changes color when it find it for example sweet, sour , salty, bitter
· It can detect poisons in water and also can differentiate between mineral water and hard water
· It can detect alcohol level present in beverages.
· It can be used to quantify bitterness or spicy levels of drinks or dissolved compounds
· It helps in study of sweet taste evaluation with lipid/polymer membrane.
Electronic tongue is emerging and promising invention in field of food industry. It is a valuable tool that has made gustatory analysis of food an easy task. It not only replaces human sensory panel in evaluation area but also saves time, being cost effective and provides better analytical results. Its various applications in food industry have made this invention boon.
- Latha RS, Lakshmi PK. Electronic tongue: Ananalytical gustatory tool. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2012 Jan; 3(1):3-8. Doi:10.4103/2231-4040.93556. PMID: 22470887; PMCID: PMC3312724.
- Gustationchapter from book Food quality and sensory evaluation by Eram S Rao.
- Electronic tongue – An overview by science direct
- Electronic tongue- Wikipedia. com