Thursday, October 27, 2011

Human taste testers jobs at risk and Saint Honore L'Amour

Lentils and rice
Food Diary (October 26, 2011)
Breakfast: Rolled oats with coconut and sunflower seeds
Lunch: Lentils and rice
Dinner: Carrot salad, sourdough bread
Baking/sweets: chocolates

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian
Dennis Wholey

Today's Favourite Photo
Source: Camemberu
Saint Honore L'Amour - a rosy elegant tower of red fruit compote and rose petal cream filled profiteroles sitting on an almond tart base

Today’s Favourite Blog
Human taste testers now face competition and their jobs may be at risk. No, we are not talking about outsourcing to India or China, instead there is a possibility of machines taking over.

The issue with tasting is that the taste depends not only on the combination of ingredients in the food, but also on the taster's emotional state. We know from our own experiences when certain foods taste better under certain circumstances. Trained taste testers eliminate some of the variation, but they are still humans. This is where electronic sensing technologies come in.

Researchers used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to test its abilities as "a magnetic tongue." Eighteen canned tomatoes were analysed. It was found that the instrument could estimate most of the tastes assessed by the human taste testers. But the instrument went even further. By determining the chemical composition, it showed which compound is related to which sensory descriptor. The researchers said that the "magnetic tongue" has good potential as a rapid, sensitive and relatively inexpensive approach for food processing companies to use.

It sounds a bit unusual that we will rely on machines to taste foods that humans will eat. However in a way it makes sense since the human testers can be a bit unreliable. If we were to taste food that only we would eat then there is little need for machines. However if the food is being tasted for the general public then I suppose having  unbiased opinion becomes more important. 

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  1. Hi three cookies, electronic food tasters? Wow, extra sensitive as compared to humans. I find this difficult to swallow, but technology is so advanced… the good part it, which chemical compound determines certain sensory description can also be done… well then, am looking forward to tastier processed foods in future. Ha ha

    The photo looks so stunningly beautiful… rose petal cream- oooooooooooooo ! this is gourmet, thanks for sharing

  2. So interesting about the potential for taste testing by machinery...and you're right about no prejudice from food preferences. Wonderful food photo of the day, too~

  3. I think they might have to program each electronic food tester for each country so that there is a fair and unbiased taste testing. Hmmm... But your photos are just gorgeous, rose petals and cream and even the little drops of moisture on the petals- Wow!

  4. What a fantastic, fantastic looking dessert!

  5. I can't even imagine a "magnetic tongue." Just the idea of a machine being able to do that is mind-boggling.

  6. Love that quote! Must remember to use it each time someone complains to me about being treated unfairly.
    Gosh, I wouldn't know where to start digging into that dessert without it toppling over into my lap.
    I guess it makes sense (in a morbid sort of way) having a machine do the tastings. Humans get different moods and different preferences at different times.

  7. Machine taste testers. Very, very interesting story, and I'm curious how our life will change when everything start to be replaced by machines. You just had salad and bread for dinner? Hmmm I think I need to eat less like you to lose some weight. :-(

  8. The concept of magnetic tongue is very interesting! I really loved your way of writing and presentation!

  9. Oh that saint honore is my favourite pastry! Made even prettier by the rose petal! :D

  10. Wan: yes tastier processed food in future:) I wonder if this is good or bad. If processed food will be tastier people will eat it more

    Lizzy: thank you

    bam's Kitchen: good point, different programs to suit different countries, consumer preferences etc.

    yummychunklet : it is, I would have loved to eat it

    Mary: it’s a bit difficult to grasp but I suppose there are upsides as well

    ping: hahaha, yes give it to them, and a double whammy if the person complaining is a vegetarian:) It sounds strange that we will trust machines more than humans to taste our foods but it does make sense as well.

    Nami: hopefully the changes will be positive, as long as we use machines for the right purposes! Yes that’s all I had for dinner.

    Purabi Naha: thank you for your kind words

    Lorraine: I have never tried saint honore, very curious now

  11. I love the quotation at the beginning! So true!
    I'm not surprised at the machine testing. When I have a good bottle of wine I never drink it too late. For example after midnight my tastebuds are simply tired, my head is tired, so if I plan some cocktails and wine, I drink wine first; also the earlier I drink wine the more I feel of the flavours and aroma; then I read somewhere that professional tasting is practically never at night and this is mainly because human tastebuds and brain are more performing in the morning. I have also noticed it's easier to feel dizzy with the same amount of alcohol when it's drunk late.
    I don't mention here such things as mood or headaches or the previous meal...

  12. I've got to tell you, just the idea of machine taste testers freaks me out, man! Seriously... a scary thought.

  13. Sissi: I think you should drink wine for breakfast since its the best time:) I didn't think of how tastes are affected towards the end of the day but it makes sense. Apart from being tired we have eaten and drank so much that it influences our taste sensors. No wonder the last beer tastes so different from the first beer:)
    Mood, headaches, previous meals or the glass or water or the many different variables.

  14. Wow taste tester seems to be a nice job :)