Electric chopsticks made in Japan to enhance salty taste

Computerized chopsticks developed by Japanese researchers intensify salty tastes, potentially assisting those who need to cut sodium in their diets.

The chopsticks, which were co-developed by Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita and beverage maker Kirin Holdings Co. (2503.T), use electrical stimulation and a wristband-worn minicomputer to improve taste.

According to Miyashita, the device employs a mild electrical current to convey sodium ions from food to the mouth via chopsticks, where they create a salty sensation.

“As a result, the salty flavour is 1.5 times stronger,” he explained.

Miyashita and his research group have looked into how technology might interact with and stimulate human sensory experiences. He’s also created a lickable television screen that can replicate a variety of culinary flavours.

The salty-tasting chopsticks could be especially useful in Japan, where the traditional diet favours salty flavours. The average Japanese adult consumes roughly 10 grammes of salt per day, which is more than double the level advised by the WHO.

Excess salt consumption has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses.

“We need to minimise our salt intake to prevent these ailments,” Kirin researcher Ai Sato said.

“If we try to avoid eating less salt in a traditional fashion, we will have to bear the anguish of cutting out our favourite foods or eating bland meals.”

Miyashita and Kirin are fine-tuning their chopsticks prototype and want to launch them next year.

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