What food companies learn from a smart-mouthed robot
A number of big food companies are trying to change up their product formulations these days to include healthier ingredients. Earlier this month, Mars Inc. joined the ranks of companies cutting artificial coloring from candies like M&Ms and Skittles.
But changing a product can be risky. It might end up tasting less tasty or crispy than the original one.
“Sugar doesn't just make a product sweet and salt doesn't just make it salty,” said Ralph DeLong, a Professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry. “They also have chemical interactions with the other things that affect the texture of the food.”
Some major food companies, which didn’t want to be named, are now finding ways to assess how product reformulations affect things like crispiness, thanks to a robot DeLong helped build.
DeLong said the original robot, invented 30 years ago, was designed for the purpose of testing dental restoration materials. The super-chewer robot could put wear and tear on them a lot faster than humans could and cost a lot less to employ.
“For a material that you want to test for five years, in one week you have the result,” he said.
The latest version of the robot can give feedback on what it's chewing.
Read the full article: http://www.marketplace.org/2016/02/10/world/what-food-companies-learn-smart-mouthed-robot