Scientists have developed an electronic tongue that can 'taste' spicy foods more accurately than humans. Spicy food wears out taste buds quickly. This can be a problem for people who make and sell spicy food. "At low concentrations, or low spiciness, it's hard to discriminate between two samples," said Courtney Schlossareck, a graduate student at Washington State University in the US.
"It's also hard to tell a difference between two samples at high concentrations," said Schlossareck. The e-tongue's ability to differentiate between the spiciness of foods could come in handy for industry, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science. A problem with testing spicy foods is that people can only test a few samples before their taste buds give out. After a few bites, taste buds cannot distinguish differences in taste at all.
However, the e-tongue can handle as much heat as any scientist can throw at it and maintain accuracy. "This 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," Schlossareck said. "That would take days to do with people tasting them," she said. That is because real people need to wait at least five minutes between samples. Even then, only a few samples can be tested because the spiciness lingers and can throw off results, she said.
(With inputs from agencies.)