The beverage industry is witnessing a shift from the price of the beverage to the quality of the beverage and acceptability of the production procedures, especially, with a lot of news and rumours like presence of pesticides in some edible beverages. As the awareness in the market is increasing, the need for beverage companies to review their policies towards quality assurance. The accountability and profitability of the company, might also be affected with the decrease in quality of beverages. Hence, defining the product quality and setting the right parameters by which it is measured and controlled has become a major challenge for the beverage industry.
There are multiple solutions present in the market which can satiate these requirements. Amongst them, Electronic Sensor Technology, Inc.’s zNose® employs a proprietary Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) sensor and ultra-fast Gas Chromatography (GC) technology to separate vapor samples according to their chemical and physical properties. The SAW/GC system requires no high voltages, utilizes essentially all solid state and it is completely safe, as it involves no radioactive or hazardous chemicals. zNose® is designed to quantify and characterize all types of smells universally and is only electronic nose technology to have been validated by both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Speed, Accuracy & Precision
zNose® provides real-time qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis of any odor. It also offers a recognizable visual image of vapor mixtures (fragrances) containing hundreds of different chemical species in less than a minute or near real time.
When it comes to precision and accuracy, zNose® delivers both with its ability to repeat a measurement and ability to obtain the correct answer. When presented with constant vapor standards, this GC/SAW electronic nose typically achieves 1-2% variation (RSD) in readings.
With VaporPrint™ imaging, zNose® does not require artificial intelligence since the SAW detector can provide the operator with visually recognizable image while also quantifying the strength of each chemical within a fragrance. Hence the ability to perform chemical analysis of any odor with precision, speed, and accuracy is a unique feature of zNose®.
5 key applications of beverage quality control:
The number of successful food and beverage applications of the GC/SAW zNose® is expanding rapidly and with considerable diversity. Because chromatography is an accepted analytical technique, GC/SAW technology is able to satisfy and follow accepted FDA testing methodology. The five recent application areas of zNose® are as follows:
Beer: The 1-minute chromatographic analysis of four common American beers made it clear that each beer contains the same major compounds and taste testing showed that few are able to discriminate between them. However, the ability of zNose® to identify and quantify each compound as well as any compounds, which are not desired, is proving to be of great value in controlling quality control throughout the beer manufacturing process. Also, zNose® speciates and quantifies the chemicals present in beverages by removing the ambiguity of human odor panel measurements.
Bottled Water: As the SAW sensor uses no coatings, it is stable and sensitive enough to determine drinking water levels by simply smelling the headspace vapors above a water sample. The quality control is very vital for the most common beverage, bottled water. Due to either latent bacteria or absorption of aromatics from the plastic container, the off-odors associated with contamination are quite common in bottled water. The zNose® can identify and quantify each compound of water contained in a plastic bottle which can give the water a very bad taste.
Sesame Oil: Sesame oil is an important ingredient used throughout the food industry for cooking and as a flavor additive. As several grades obtained in this oil could not be discriminated simply by VaporPrint™ images, zNose® performs a more detailed discrimination by creating orthogonal virtual sensor array to quantify the concentration of the eleven most common compounds present in the oil. By measuring each grade of oil and recording the concentration of each compound zNose® succeeds in separating all seven grades of oil.
Whisky: There are many beverages, which can be characterized by the zNose®, and one, which demonstrates the versatility of the technique, is whisky. Whisky can be very difficult because of the high (43%) concentration of alcohol, but zNose® with high-speed chromatography separates the alcohol from the other aromatic elements and measures the concentration to the overall aroma of each compound. Also, the zNose® passed the test of evaluating three different types of whiskies, American Bourbon, French Cognac, and Nikka Whisky using both concentration chromatograms as well as VaporPrint™ images.
Wine: A final application of electronic nose is the characterization of wine. Such characterization must be accurate and requires part per billion and even part per trillion sensitivity since a great wine can be destroyed by even these small traces of contamination. Wine contamination can come from many parts of the process.
For example, most are familiar with trichloroanisole (TCA) which is formed when bacteria within the cork comes into contact with bleach which is used to whiten the corks. Far more serious problems can occur when the process equipment becomes contaminated. Using an electronic nose, like zNose® such sources of contamination can be quickly detected and corrected before the wine is bottled. Testing with zNose® can be done either by piercing the cork to test the bottle or barrel. Simply analyzing the headspace in a glass of wine can also evaluate wine quality. Hence, zNose® is a useful tool for monitoring the quality of the wine processing from beginning to end.
Hence, EST Inc.’s zNose® with its distinctive features and advanced technology acts as a favorable solution for effective beverage quality control to all the beverage companies. This electronic nose is fast, operates over a wide range of vapor concentrations, has picogram sensitivity, can transform the human olfactory response into a true visual response and is simple to use and calibrate. Also, provides the quality control of virtually any food or beverage with speed, precision, and accuracy. Validation by the U.S EPA and other governing agencies is an assurance that quality control with zNose® is very proficient option to opt for beverage quality control.