The new artificial mouth technology could provide industry with “fast and accurate feedback on the product flavor release and its physical properties” which could aid in the development or reformulation of products.
Writing in Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, an international team of researchers reveal the details of the artificial mouth model that is designed to mimic natural features and conditions of the mouth – including temperature, saliva flow, gas flow and appropriate oral cavity volumes.
“We have designed a comprehensive and advanced model mouth to act as an in vitro platform for understanding complex oral systems, including the tongue and its role in flavor perception,” said the researchers, led by Ofir Benjamin from the Riddet Institute in New Zealand.
“The model mouth described here is capable of reproducing actual human tongue pressure patterns by a computer controlled artificial tongue,”
Benjamin and his colleagues explained that in addition to mimicking oral conditions the new model mouth is also able to measure aroma and flavor release by measuring the presence of volatile compounds.
The perception of flavors is important in the acceptance of food by consumers. As such understanding the release of flavor and aroma compounds in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the mouth is very important when producing new products.
“The oral processing of food to facilitate VOC release involves a complex set of interrelated factors that includes shearing forces, temperature, pH, saliva mixing and air flow rate,” said the researchers.
“The feasibility of including all these factors in a comprehensive in vitro study on VOC release poses a significant practical challenge.”
Benjamin and his colleagues reported that the model mouth device was developed to mimic tongue pressure patterns and to monitor VOC release using on-line measurements.
Details of the design of the model mouth are provided in the study (found here) – including the results of experiments to evaluate the viability of the model in comparison to in vivo human parameters.
“The results from this study provide the user with flexibility to choose the proper parameters and movement formulas to generate a desired pressure pattern while understanding the limitations of the model mouth compared to a human tongue.”
“In the future, the model mouth will be used in flavor release studies under oral conditions,” said the researchers, who noted that knowledge obtained from follow-up studies using the model “will shed more light on how VOC release is affected throughout the retronasal tract.”
Source: Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.ifset.2012.03.004
“Development of a model mouth containing an artificial tongue to measure the release of volatile compounds”
Authors: O. Benjamin, P. Silcock, J.A. Kieser, J.N. Waddell, M.V. Swain, D.W. Everett