Can technology replace the panel test ?

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Recently it became known that the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture along with the Interprofessional of olive oil associations and the Region of Andalusia signed an agreement of scientific-technicalnbspcooperation with the goal to complement or replace? the ldquopanel testrdquo for the organoleptic quality of virgin and extra virgin olive oils with a new method, using a hi- tech device

The new method is supposed to lead to the improvement of the results of sensory panels and thereby reduce the disputes which are expressed on the existing method

Scientists, sensory experts and companies specializing in extra virgin olive oil of high organoleptic value showed immediate interest to learn more about the initiative And soon voiced some serious concerns

Nobody doubts that science disposes the technological background and the resources able to invent nbsphi-tech tools for such a usenbspBut nbspis a device, as technologically advanced as though it, capable to replace the human sensors ? Such a device will really improve or complement the panel test ?nbspCan a device highlight the full range of the advantages or the disadvantages of olive oils, as a well-trained sensory panel can , or will eventually work with an average that would result in disguising flaws of some olive oils ?

imageAccording to the EU Regulation 2568/1991 articles 2 and 4, Annex XII the panels of trained and selected tasters are responsible to assess and ascertain organoleptic characteristics of olive oils

A very characteristic example of the uniqueness of the panel tests is The Mario Solinas Competition , sponsored each year by the International Olive Council IOC, where tasters score qualities such as the harmony/balance , flavor, retro-nasal aroma ,
complexity and persistence of flavors in olive oils , in order to showcase and award the finest EVOOrsquos in the world

This assessment sheet is used by several other important international extra virgin olive oil competitions as itrsquos considered as the only one to take into consideration the very unique taste,nbsparoma and flavor of an extra virgin olive oil

The ldquopanel testrdquo replacement is a very sensitive issue, as sensitive the human sensors are Any effort to apply new methods , others than the existing internationally recognized quality tests , especially nbspif nbspitrsquos not widely supported , can be seen like an attempt to bypass the established rules and may worsen the disputes

The debate is now open and the outcome depends on the reaction of other producing or/and consuming countries

Human senses vs technology, an old but always interesting debatehellip

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