SCIENTISTS at Oxford University have developed a hot new invention designed to spice up the food market.

Professor Richard Compton and his team of researchers have created a device that can measure the hotness of chillies to help customers tell how spicy their sauces may be.

Previous methods of testing were less accurate and used a panel of tasters. With the new device it will be possible to measure on the Scoville Scale, the standard for ‘heat’ from chillies.

Research team member Kristina Tschulik said: “It has previously been possible to measure how hot a chilli is using expertise and a lab. But with this sensor, you have everything you need to hand, so it’s much more cost-effective. It is very simple to use and you can get a result in two minutes.

“You could actually put a number on every bottle of sauce to show how hot it was.”

The Chilli Sensor uses sensors to measure the amount of a chemical called capsaicin that determines how hot chilli peppers are. It is being targeted at food production companies.