London, 2016-Aug-06 — /EPR Retail News/ — In a UK first, Sainsbury’s is trialling a revolutionary piece of technology, dubbed the Electronic Tongue, to taste-test its own-brand pet food. The news will come as a relief to professional tasters who have historically had the ‘ruff’ deal of ensuring pet food is up to standard.
One of only three of its kind in the UK, the Electronic Tongue uses advanced sensors that work like taste buds to measure and compare taste.
The machine is so accurate, that when experts in Sainsbury’s Quality Testing Laboratory put it to the test, it could taste the difference when pet food had even 0.03 g more of salt added per 100 g, and is even capable of measuring aftertaste.
Juliette Jahaj, Head of Analytical Testing at Sainsbury’s said: “There are a couple of challenges we face when it comes to quality testing pet food, the first being that it’s a fairly unpleasant job for human tasters. Secondly, we can’t ask dogs and cats their opinion!
“What’s paw-sitively brilliant about using the electronic tongue is that we can ensure our pet food is consistently being produced to the recipes that our taste-testing panels of dogs and cats love.
“It’s as close as we can get to talking to the animals – like Dr. Doolittle! We hope this trial gets the tails of the nation’s pets wagging!”
THE SCIENCE BIT – HOW DOES THE ELECTRONIC TONGUE WORK?
- The machine can taste up to nine different types of pet food at a time, with individual sensors measuring each different flavour – salt, sour, bitterness, sweetness and umami. From the molecules that are detected in the food the more of each flavour molecule e.g. umami (savoury); the stronger the savoury taste.
- The sensors allow the device to analyse the same flavours as the tongue of a cat or dog. An electrical response is created within the sensors which sends the signal to a connected computer to translate that information into a taste profile.
- While every person or animal might interpret the same taste in slightly different ways, based on past experiences, or the smell or texture of a product; the Electronic Tongue produces a set of data that is completely unbiased.
- The move is part of the ongoing work performed by Sainsbury’s team of technical managers & product developers who work to ensure products that hit the shelves are just right. The technical team routinely test Sainsbury’s own-label products in Sainsbury’s in-house laboratory using analytical measuring equipment like the electronic tongue.The Electronic Tongue was designed by a Japanese company called Intelligent Sensor Technology, Inc. led by Dr. Hidekazu Ikezaki. The first machine was manufactured in 1993 in Kyushu University and 22 years and four models later, the latest machine is the TS-5000z with the most up-to-date sensor technology.Juliette Jahaj, Sainsbury’s Head of Analytical Testing concluded: “Through this trial we’re excited to see how the Electronic-Tongue can support the fantastic work of our Technical and Product Development Teams to ensure the pet food in our stores is just purrrfect!”
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