For the food or beverage industry, and sometimes in the pharmaceutical industry as well, determining how the food products affect the customer's senses is the most vital aspect. The sensory evaluation is the most reliable way to predict how a customer might react to the product. However, sensory evaluation is very difficult to manage properly as we must consider the following elements: panelist's preparation, location of the sensory evaluation, appropriate sample preparation, testing procedure, interpretation of the result, etc. Typically, a sensory analysis should be performed by selected and trained panelists, but sometimes it is difficult to collect appropriate panelists and so sensory analysis is normally made of very time consuming test methods. For so long, there was no apparatus which could substitute the "tongue" in evaluating taste.
Finally, after many years of research between Professor Toko's group at the Kyushu University (Japan) and Intelligent Sensor Technology Inc., they have successfully developed a taste sensor system based on an artificial lipid membrane that consistently responds to specific tastes. The sensors that they have developed selectively respond to the 4 basic tastes, Sourness/ Saltiness/ Bitterness/ Sweetness, as well as the 5th taste sensation "Umami"; additionally, there is a sensor that responds to Astringency. These sensors are made from artificial lipid membrane which imitates the human tongue, so they can analyze not only the initial-taste, but also the after-taste intensity for umami, bitterness and astringency, just like a human would.
Each taste sensor developed by their specific and innovative technology has taken in global selectivity to a certain taste, and so the output created by the sensor can be converted into 5 basic taste information: sourness, saltiness, bitterness, sweetness and umami. This is helpful in distinguishing the difference in both taste quality and intensity between samples. The TS-5000Z & SA402B can strongly support the technicians, in the food, beverage or pharmaceutical industry, who are engaged in developing new products on a day to day basis. Depending on their needs, the user is able to choose which sensor to use since each sensor has selectivity to a specific taste. In the pharmaceutical industry, the active pharmaceutical ingredient (also referred to as "API") generally has very strong bitterness intensity. The taste is so terrible that at times it leads to an even worse adherence for patients who are in need of pediatric and/or geriatric drugs. Therefore, API is treated by a masking agent to suppress the bitterness intensity. From the perspective of compliance and/or safety, in most cases it is difficult to conduct sensory evaluations for drug samples that already contain API in the product developmental stage. However, our TS-5000Z & SA402B make it possible to run the bitterness sensor test on the developing product to see how much of the API bitterness intensity is suppressed by the masking agent. Thus, this system is absolutely useful in the fields of marketing, R&D, quality control, complaint handling, and advertisement, as visualization of taste is possible for the buyers to see.