Food flavor is a multi-dimensional quality feature which has five clearly defined attributes which include visual, touch sensing, aroma, taste and texture. All these quality factors are routinely assessed by sensory or organoleptic evaluation by trained panelists or specialist tasters. Cup quality of coffee or tea and quality of alcoholic beverages is tested even to day by specialized judges familiar with various aromatic notes associated with these products. Color and texture can be assessed reasonably well using computerized electronic instruments with good correlation with subjective evaluation criteria. Electronic instruments have now been developed for assessing food aromas in place of the present system of smelling by human nose.
"The smelling device is an electronic instrument equipped with chemical sensors and a chemometric programme for pattern recognition which recognises and compares individual or complex odours. Like the human olfactory system, the instrument compares new aromas with those stored in its electronic memory in order to rank various smells".
After the advent of HPLC technique and Mass Spectra instruments, chemical nature of most of the aroma constituents in foods has been elucidated. What the new "electronic nose" does is comparing the chemical profile of the product being tested with stored reference standards to give an objective judgment with high reliability. Of course the instrument needs to be calibrated and stored with reference standards for it to pronounce a judgment. Food and beverage industry can be expected to avail off this new techniques for improving the consistency in quality for their products.