In Japan electronic nose and tongue instruments have been widely used as Research and Development tools particularly in the food, beverage and cosmetics industries for shelf life analysis or formulation developments. They are more and more used nowadays at the production floor as easy, reliable and fast organoleptic Quality Control instruments. They do give simple electronic signature correlated with the smell and taste qualities (quantitative or qualitative). They can also provide a chemical firewall instrument or early warning process indicators of any changes in the raw materials profiles or finished products qualities.
Electronic Nose and Tongue as quality proof in marketing and sales tools
In Japan, a country with a very high quality standard, Electronic Nose and Tongue instruments are now included in sales and marketing tools. They are used by vendors in order to:
- Guarantee objectively the batch to batch consistency of products to their customers by providing an electronic signature on every lot delivered
- Outrun competitors by showing objective specifications of their products
- Position their products versus competition
Electronic Nose and Tongue instruments can be not only part of a manufacturer's specifications under an electronic signature format within relationships with customers or suppliers, but they can also be used as powerful tools to objectivate the organoleptic the specifications of a manufacturer’s products.
This article presents examples where the Electronic Nose and Tongue are part of the marketing and sales efforts of food companies in Japan.
Alpha MOS ASTREE Electronic Tongue
Alpha MOS FOX Electronic Nose
Kyowa Hakko Company
Electronic nose for food ingredients
Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, created in 1949 (6,000 employees), is a worldwide leader in food and chemicals additives. They manufacture and sell:
- Seasonings, confectionary and baking ingredients and processed foods
- Solvent, plasticizers and their raw materials and specialty chemicals
- Ethical drugs and diagnostic reagents
- Amino and nucleic acids for pharmaceutical and industrial use
- Bulks pharmaceuticals
- Animal health products
- Health foods
- Raw material alcohol
One of their objectives is to provide their customers with high quality seasonings. To develop new seasoning more rapidly than just traditional evaluation systems, they have been working with the FOX Electronic Nose since 1997 and the ASTREE Electronic Tongue since 2001. The electronic nose and tongue have been used for R&D purposes for product development as well as for monitoring the batch to batch consistency of their products. These achievements were highlighted by two presentations about the rancidity evaluation using an electronic nose and on product development combining sensory techniques (5th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose in Baltimore, USA). The Electronic Nose is now an established technique alongside their more traditional evaluation systems by humans, GC-MS and MS-PAK. Kyowa Hakko are using their R&D results as part of their Food Ingredients Catalogs.
The Ingredient Guide Book
Application: Enhancement of soy sauce taste and maturity impression of miso
Results: HS-100 and BS-100 are 2 Kyowa Hakko kokumi taste seasonings
- Figure 1 shows that the taste of the original product is enhanced by adding Kyowa seasoning into reference soy sauce as the reference samples with HS-100 and BS-100 is closer to samples which have stronger taste.
- With figure 2, it is proven that their seasoning ingredients have a strong positive effect on the enhancement of the kokumi taste when comparing with miso samples with different maturation periods.
Electronic nose for food ingredients
Kitii, created in May 1985, has 30 employees. They develop and manufacture health care foods and meat substitutes with enhanced taste.
To match today’s consumers demand for safe and high quality food, Kitii successfully developed and commercialized the fermentation seasoning "Ringo Soft" of natural origin. Unlike other conventional meat tenderizers, the fermentation elements of apple in Ringo Soft improve the water retention of the tissues of fish and meat. This new seasoning is designed to be added to other Japanese seasonings such as sake, soy sauce, miso and vinegar. This seasoning helps making meat juicy while drawing out more intense flavors of the original food materials. Some additives also suppress typical animal or fishy odor.
Application: Measuring the effect on one of their food ingredients as an odor suppressor
Digitalization of masking effect with “Ringo-Soft food ingredient “
- Methodology: After beef was soaked with the Ringo-Soft 4 % solution for 3 hours, it was cooked on both sides with a frying pan. The smell was measured with the FOX Electronic Nose.
- Results: The figure shows that the smell of meat processed with Ringo-Soft (on the right curves) is less intense than normal (left curves) which limits the intensity of nuisances.
Nisshin Oil Company
Electronic nose for edible oils
Nisshin Oil Company, created in 1907, is today the largest maker and marketer of edible oils in Japan and one of the worldwide leaders. The company sells salad dressing, cooking oil, and margarine for home and commercial use, as well as fine chemicals and animal feed. It is xpanding its production of oils used in cosmetics as well. Its health foods, designed primarily for patients requiring specific diets, meet the needs of Japan's aging population.
They have been using the Alpha MOS FOX Electronic Nose for several years as a R&D tool to develop new products as well as for Q/C purposes. They do also use the FOX as a sales and marketing tool to benchmark their products with the competition. The electronic nose results are displayed in the brochures of edible oils.
Application: In this particular case, Nisshin oils describes the benefits of their new light and healthy canola oils
Healthy light Canola Oil from Nisshin is recognized as releasing less oily odor during the frying process compared to competition and common Canola oil.
Electronic nose and tongue for food ingredients
Imuraya is the market leader in Japan for hot Chinese buns filled with meat or sweet red bean paste, two popular snack foods, and for a Japanese sweet jelly called mizu-yokan. Imuraya also develop food ingredients that either enhanced the taste perceived or mask some off odor or bad odor.
The Alpha Mos FOX Electronic Nose and ASTREE Electronic Tongue have demonstrated the efficiency of Imuraya food additives added to various foods. The documents hereafter are some of their advertisements.
Adding the vegetable bouillon IM from Imuraya into simple consommé soup generates cooking impression like vegetable is really boiled.
Several soups were analyzed with the ASTREE Electronic Tongue:
- Standard consommé soup (considered as blank product)
- Soups with added vegetable bouillon ingredients
- A real vegetables soup boiled for 30mn
One can compare the proximity of the real soup with the samples where the ingredient was added to the consommé with vegetable bouillon IM.
Imuraya ingredients vegetable bouillon does not only enhance the vegetable flavor and taste, but can also mask the fishy odor at the same time.
10 g of minced sardine was dissolved into 10 ml of distilled water with some masking compounds or with the « vegetable bouillon » at a certain concentration. After an odor generation of 5 mn at 90°C, the responses of the FOX Electronic Nose were compared to the minced sardine at low and high concentration.