Futuristic Electronic Tongue Ensures Your Food Quality

An electronic tongue has the capability of “tasting” food and water for bacteria and toxicity levels

The future of food safety is here. Almost. 

What if you could ensure, electronically, that every item that passes through a grocery store’s doors, or even a country’s borders, is entirely safe? Researchers are developing a device that can electronically “taste” or scan food and water for bacterial contamination and toxicity. Although the device is years from actually being utilized for this purpose in a commercial sense, researcher S. V. Litvinenko and the team who wrote about the device in the science journal, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, say that the tongue will be made from silicon, and will be both low-cost and environmentally friendly. The same technology could even be applied to human bodies, which could be scanned for signs of disease or injury.

The electronic tongue works in much the same way as a human or animal tongue, with “tiny sensors [that] detect substances in a sample and send signals to a computer for processing just as taste buds sense and transmit flavor messages to the brain,” according to the American Chemical Society.

Similar technology is already being used to determine the authenticity of Thai food and measure beer quality. The device has thus far been tested by blindly “tasting” water, cognac, Armagnac, and whiskey, and was able to determine the difference (complete with taste profiles) of each sample. 

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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi