Spicy foods taste and feel hot right in the first bite. We have all experienced it. A compound known as capsaicinoid is what that lends heat to thepeppers/chilles in the spicy food. When the food is eaten, it first comes into contact with tongue. The receptors of the tongue do not taste the food as much as they feel the heat sensation produced by the capsaicinoid. The compound is also responsible for watery eyes and runny nose and burning sensation on the tongue. The brain, at the first instance, does not really get the taste of the food but tricks our body into feeling the high temperature first. This might make tasting spicy foods a bit difficult, especially for food professionals. A new scientific discovery might just provide a solution to this problem.
A study published in the Journal of Food Science claims that an electronic tongue or e-tongue is more effective in test-tasting spicy foods than the relatively more sensitive human sensory nerves. E-tongue can also accurately ascertain the difference in spiciness of various food samples.
This can prove to be a great discovery for people whose livelihood depends on production or marketing of spicy foods. It is said that consuming spicy foods in a large quantity can eventually ruin and render inactive the taste buds.
One of the researchers, Courtney Schlossareck, said, “At low concentrations, or low spiciness, it’s hard to discriminate between two samples. It’s also hard to tell a difference between two samples at high concentrations. Spicy cheese is really popular. So helping cheese-makers dial in the optimum level of spiciness would be even more helpful.”
Tasting too many spicy foods in one go can make the taste buds lose their ability after some time. E-tongue can go on for a longer time tolerating the heat and measuring the taste of the food.
“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. That would take days to do with people tasting them,” Schlossareck added.
Humans need at least 5 minutes time gap in between sampling different foods. In case of spicy foods, the strong flavour may not completely wear off. This poses a great risk of getting inaccurate test results. Electronic tongue is a noteworthy solution to keep the industry of spicy foods rolling smoothly.