The grading of ginseng (Panax ginseng) including the evaluation of internal quality attributes is essential in the ginseng industry for quality control. Assessment for inner whitening, a major internal disorder, must be conducted when identifying high quality ginseng. Conventional methods for detecting inner whitening in ginseng root samples use manual inspection, which is time-consuming and inaccurate. This study develops an internal quality measurement technique using near-infrared transmittance spectral imaging to evaluate inner whitening in ginseng samples. Principle component analysis (PCA) was used on ginseng hypercube data to evaluate the developed technique. The transmittance spectra and spectral images of ginseng samples exhibiting inner whitening showed weak intensity characteristics compared to normal ginseng in the region of 900–1050 nm and 1150–1400 nm respectively, owing to the presence of whitish internal tissues that have higher optical density. On the basis of the multivariate analysis method, even a simple waveband ratio image has the great potential to quickly detect inner whitening in ginseng samples, since these ratio images show a significant difference between whitened and non-whitened regions. Therefore, it is possible to develop an efficient and rapid spectral imaging system for the real-time detection of inner whitening in ginseng using minimal spectral wavebands. This novel strategy for the rapid, cost-effective, non-destructive detection of ginseng’s inner quality can be a key component for the automation of ginseng grading.
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