The sense of taste(tongue) and smell(nose) work in harmony to develop human’s taste preferences of food and beverages. It is widely supported by specialists that 80% of food taste is affected by olfactory, not tongue perception. Despite the fact that today food and merchandise are intensely related with numerous scents, aroma detectors, which also function in monitoring, are rarely introduced yet. Only a minority of well trained specialists are used in this operation thus limited by several factors. To be specific; long training period, human errors, and health problems.
Because of the complexity of the olfactory system, only specialists with well-trained skills can be used to distinguish more than 10,000 kinds of perfume, while average people may be able to recognize only hundreds to thousands. Furthermore, smell perception also depends on emotion and feeling which will not allow them to continuously work for a long period. Sometimes testor can not accurately indicate a specific smell because each individual does not share the same feeling. Another significant boundary is that although humans can sense the strong or weak smell, they still cannot quantify them. As a result, the artificial olfactory system has been developed into an electronic nose, the engineering device which will help humans measure scent.
By imitating human nose and olfactory system function, electronic nose devices are developed following this core feature:
- Detection part: This section contains the smell carrier that may have an air suction motor and concentrator to make the concentrated smell. The main component is a large number of smell sensors, from four to more than a hundred.
- Signal collection part: It acts to convert the signal from the sensors and handle noise (Signal conditioning), then converts the signal from analog to digital.
- Processing part: It is the part that brings the received signals to be statistically compared with the database. It may use artificial neural networks to identify odors and learn as well as recognize the patterns of smells
The Application of Electronic Nose in Food and Beverage Industry
Food preservation: Food manufacturers are trying to innovate and develop methods for maintaining food quality without changing the taste. The electronic nose can do rapid analysis of the food taste, which allows development to be done efficiently. For example, we can use the electronic nose to investigate the aroma changing during storage time to determine the shelf-life evaluation of cod roe. Almonds in different crop areas have different tastes, which can be classified using the electronic nose. The innovative electronic nose can be applied to durian farming as well. Since durian is a fruit with a unique smell, we can distinguish the durian species by this measurement. It is also possible to check the degree of ripeness of durian, which allows the farmer to precisely notice at the peak of its flavor. We also used the electronic nose to taste the vegetable tablets frozen and kept for 3 years and found that the smell quality of these tablets was still similar to the fresh produced ones.
Kerdchareon, T. (2022, June). Electronic Nose Technology for Food and Beverage Industry. Food Focus Thailand, 17(195), 39–40.
Written by Dr. Teerakiat Kerdcharoen