Who needs salt when you have electricity? That’s the proposition of the “electric flavoring fork” created by a researcher in Japan to make meals more palatable for people who need to stick to low-salt or no-salt diets.
Sprinkling too much salt on food has long been flagged up as a dietary sin linked to a raft of health problems, from strokes to heart disease.
So health-conscious salt lovers are likely to celebrate the fact that Japanese scientists have created a guilt-free way of enjoying it – by inventing an electric fork.
The prototype fork creates a salty taste in the mouth at the press of a button, due to the release of an electrical current which stimulates the tongue.
The battery-operated fork – which can create sour and metallic as well as salty tastes – was pioneered by Hiromi Nakamura at Rekimoto Lab, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies at the University of Tokyo.
The device, which cost researchers only $2 (2,000 yen) to make, is based on the fact that a human tongues feels salty or sour when electricity is applied to it, according to the Nikkei Technology.
The technology is likely to benefit those who are required for medical reasons to limit or eliminate salt from their diet for medical reasons, such as those suffering from hypertension.
The prototype – which is not yet designed to be waterproof – was reportedly designed for an initiative called No Salt Restaurant, which aims to hold events serving salt-free full course meals.
The fork, which can run for six hours without charging, has three levels of electrical current, with different degrees of saltiness or sourness apparent depending on the eater’s age and normal dietary habits.
One researcher described testing the fork by eating a salt-free “tonkatsu” pork cutlet with salt-free sour sauce – and found that pressing the button made the pork more salty and the sauce more sour, although pushing it up to too high a level made it taste metallic.
A salt-heavy diet has long been associated with high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease, with government guidelines currently recommending a daily limit of 6g for adults.