Artificial Eye Scrutinizes Complex Food Products
by Toni Tarver
At the 2010 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo, Alpha M.O.S. (booth #6676), an instrumentation company that specializes in sensory analysis, announced the launch of its latest sensory tool: the IRIS Visual Analyzer. The visual analyzer is the realization of an artificial eye dedicated to the visual scrutiny of complex food products. It is the latest in a line of apparatuses capable of determining the age, stability, contamination, and safety of food and beverage products.
Since 1993, Alpha M.O.S. has been creating instruments that not only mimic but supersede the sensory perception of humans by providing near-instantaneous chemical profiles of consumer products. Alpha M.O.S. was a pioneer in the development of electronic noses and electronic tongues, both of which bring speed, agility, and objectivity to food and beverage analysis. Capable of detecting and storing countless aroma fingerprints, the electronic nose can identify 40,000 molecules that cause rancid odors. The electronic tongue accurately identifies the five different tastes (bitter, salty, sweet, sour, and umami) while distinguishing pungency, spiciness, and astringency.
Not only do these sensory instruments provide a qualitative assessment of food products—detailing the structure, makeup, and safety of a food sample—but some models also provide the reasoning behind the poor quality of foods and beverages. As a testament to the sensitivity and reliability of the electronic nose by Alpha M.O.S., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is using the instrument for analysis and quality control of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico during the oil spill crisis. Poised to provide a visual assessment of the safety and quality of consumer goods, the IRIS Visual Analyzer may also become the go-to source in a crisis situation.