Kitchen gadgets review: Food Sniffer – ‘It smells fishy to me’

Rhik and the Food Sniffer: is there a less sensually appealing verb than ‘sniffing’?


The Food Sniffer (£105, organic chemical sensors housed in a plastic baton. Detects molecular decomposition in meat and fish.


What the nose knows isn’t good enough.


Oh, what’s that old joke? “My dog’s got no nose.” “How does he smell other dogs’ anuses?” “He obviously can’t, you insensitive arsehole.” (I may have misremembered the details.) It’s not just tragic, hypothetical dogs that will benefit from this device, a portable electronic nose that does your sniffing for you. Pointed at a piece of meat, it sends a reading to your phone that advises whether the food is fresh, spoiling or ready for your neighbour’s bin.

It works by detecting temperature, humidity and ammonia levels, among others. (“Volatile organic compound sensor” may sound like vague science guff lifted from a Star Trek script, but these evaporating chemicals are what odours are made of. They’re what we smell when we smell smells.) The device resembles a universal remote or, with its nozzle attached, an obstetric sonography tool. The point and click function works easily.

However, the necessity of setting up a personal profile on the app feels, well, nosy. How do someone’s age, job and address affect whether their chicken nuggets are on the turn? Can a 25-year-old mechanic from Prestatyn eat a four-day-old rogan josh? Does lamb stay fresh for longer if you’re an Estuary actuary in her late 50s? It smells fishy to me.

‘Out of curiosity, I point the e-nose at myself and press the button …’
‘Out of curiosity, I point the e-nose at myself and press the button …’ Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

Food Sniffer has settings for beef, chicken, lamb, fish and seafood, but only in their raw state. (I spend most time sniffing leftovers, or spitting out fizzy hummus.) Also: the name. Is there a less sensually appealing verb than “sniffing”? Maybe farting or tidying or forgetting, but I’m not sure.

The innovation is clearly useful – some gases are odourless, invisible to the naked nose. You can be too careful though, can’t you? Out of curiosity, I point the e-nose at myself and press the button. The remote silently probes my gases, before a red warning appears. “Do not eat! It is dangerous to eat this chicken as the spoilage process started some time ago.” I mean, damn. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but sometimes it’s better not to know.

Any downside?

Weirdly, the box proclaims “the new era of scents”. Wrong side of history, mate. This is the age of non-sense.

Counter, drawer, back of the cupboard?

A cautious yes, but the name is consigned to a bucket of noes.

[Source:-The Guardian]