Love the taste of takeaways but hate the high salt content in fast food? Then worry not. Researchers have developed chopsticks which deliver an electric shock to make food taste saltier, sour or bitter.
The “digital seasoning” technology works by stimulating taste buds with an electric pulse delivered to the tip of the tongue, The Telegraph wrote. This allows health-conscious diners to tinker with the taste of their food — without the need of extra seasoning.
Scientists are also working on a spoon that allows desserts to taste sweener and a fork that can give a curry extra heat. The electric cutlery could benefit food manufacturers and restaurants to produce reduced-salt products that don’t taste bland.
Dr Nimesha Ranasinghe, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Maine who led the research, said: “This technology is aimed at overlaying a virtual taste sensation. Depending on the food or beverage, it will augment the flavour. For example, when we eat mashed potato by applying an additional layer of electric salt, the overall flavour is enhanced.”
Dr Ranasinghe developed the electric pair of chopsticks while at the University of Singapore. The chopsticks or spoon contain electrodes that send a weak current through the tip of the tongue when they touch it to stimulate the taste buds.
The frequency, amplitude and strength of the electric current can be controlled to stimulate sourness, saltiness and bitterness. Scientists say the cultry really works — with up to 80% of people experiencing changes in saltiness and sourness and 70% sensing changes in bitterness.
The technology has come about after some Chinese takeaway food and ready meals were found to contain high levels of salt — up to 11 times more than a bag of crisps. That’s more than half the daily allowance for an adult. And with salt known to be linked to heart disease and stroke — electric cutlery may be a hit with diners.