Salt Lovers, This Fork Is for You

By Nathaniel Scharping | March 29, 2016 11:43 am
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The “electric flavoring fork” alongside a sodium-free dish. (Credit: Nikkei Technology)

Good news for sodium aficionados everywhere: The next time you feel like reaching for the salt shaker, you could just pick up your fork instead.

A prototype from the Rekimoto Lab at the University of Tokyo simulates the flavor of salt with an electric current, imbuing food with all of the flavorful goodness without increasing your blood pressure.

No Salt? No Problem?

The fork’s electrical jolt is activated with the touch of a button, completing a circuit between your fingers, the metal fork handle and your tongue. When charged sodium ions hit our tongue, their electrical potential activates ion gates that relay messages to our brains. The fork hijacks this system by targeting these ion gates with an electric charge, fooling them into sending a salty signal to our brains.

The researchers had demonstrated this technology as far back as 2012, but have now packaged it into a cheap and consumer-friendly device. Their so-called “electric-flavoring” technology is aimed at ensuring people with low-salt diets, such as those suffering from hypertension, don’t miss out on the many salty pleasures modern cuisine has to offer. In addition, the ability to alter the level of current, thus changing the level of saltiness, could allow diners to individually tune their meals to their preferences.

The materials to make the fork cost as little as $18, fork not included. The researchers say that their design can also simulate sour flavors, based on the same mechanism. However, they warn that too much current results in an unpleasant metallic taste.

Generating sweet and savory tastes has proven to be more difficult — the researchers have yet to figure out how to make your lemonade sweeter, or your steak tastier.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
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  • polistra24

    Really stupid idea. Salt isn’t lethal. Constantly passing external currents through your brain and vagus nerve is TERRIBLE and quite possibly lethal.

    • kjohn034

      You are a dramatic dumba$$.
      People with high blood pressure stay on a low salt diet so as not to retain water and raise blood pressure. Low salt not no salt. So this can really help to lower your total daily intake…get it?
      Also, an electric current follows the path of least resistance in a circle so the fork on your tongue starts the path through your tongue, then shoulder, then arm, and finally hand to the other end of the fork to complete the path. Maybe your brain IS the path of least resistance so if I were you I wouldn’t use this…haha.

  • Dorian Deome

    Brilliant #AprilFools

  • NellieD

    Be a good weight reduction tool for me, never use salt in anything. Would put me straight off eating.

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