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Is the ‘Electrical Flavouring Fork’ the future salt alternative?

29 March 2016  •  Author(s): Victoria White

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created an innovative ‘electrical flavouring fork’ that generates a salty taste without the addition of salt to food.

electrical flavouring fork

The fork was developed based on ‘electric flavouring’ technology being researched by Hiromi Nakamura. The handle of the fork incorporates a rechargeable battery and electric circuit. When the user inserts the head of the fork into the mouth with food while pressing a button on the handle, an electric current is applied to the tongue. This exploits the fact that a tongue feels salty or sour when electricity is applied to it. To counter for differing tastes, the fork has adjustable levels of stimulation.

Mayuko Uno, writing for Nikkei Technology, described their experience of using the fork. When eating salt-free pork cutlet, the fork, when activated made the food taste salty. It also made the accompanying salt-free sour sauce taste more sour. However, Uno also points out a potential flaw with the utensil- when the current level of the fork was increased, the fork produced an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth, overpowering the salty taste.

The prototype fork was designed for a ‘No Salt Restaurant’ – a project to offer a salt-free full course meal. If the electrical flavouring fork is adjusted to ensure metallic tastes don’t spoil a meal, it could be commercialised to be be used by those who need low-salt or salt-free diets. And, as the prototype fork cost less than $18 to produce, it could be an accessible alternative to the low-salt/no-salt flavourings currently on the market.

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