DailyDirt: Sweeteners By Any Another Other Names May Not Taste As Sweet...

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The sense of taste is surprisingly complex. It's related to the sense of smell, but various foods also have combinations of textures and consistencies that make taste tests an interesting (and difficult to fully understand) field of study. There are "perfect Pepsi's" -- not just a single "good" taste that everyone can agree upon. Here are just some other tidbits on tasting. By the way, StumbleUpon can also recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.
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Filed Under: chocolate, flavors, miraculin, pine mouth, richardella dulcifica, sour, sweeteners, taste
Companies: fda, pepsi

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  1. icon
    Michael Ho (profile), 23 Nov 2011 @ 10:38am

    Re: Artificial Salteners?


    I think that's a question of how salt receptors work versus how sweet receptors work.

    Sweet receptors seem to be triggered by molecules that contain structures that are similar to sugar -- so chemists (or nature) can design an array of similar molecules that can bind those sweet receptors better and produce a sweet taste that is really intense.

    Salt receptors are triggered by metal ions -- which are just charged atoms, not molecules. So different alkali metal ions taste salty in slightly different ways -- which is why some "low sodium" foods contain potassium salts instead of sodium salts. You *could* try other metals, but other metals can have unwanted side effects -- lithium salts, for example, are also a medicine for depression, so you probably don't want to use lithium salts as a food additive (and I have no idea how salty it tastes, anyway). Potassium is an okay substitute for sodium, but it doesn't quite taste like sodium salt. But all these alkali metal salts generally aren't "hundreds of times" saltier due to the way they interact with ion receptors on your tongue -- there just isn't a way to make them bind that much better because these are just metal ions -- nature only has a certain number of metal ions that are edible and non-toxic.

    I vaguely remember that some potato chip companies are working on ways to make sodium chloride more effective per weight -- but that generally involves changing the size and shape of the salt grains so that they dissolve faster on your tongue. Making salt particles different sizes/shapes doesn't really make the salt any "saltier" but it changes how effectively it is delivered, so that they can use less salt on chips but people still think it tastes as salty.

    BTW, Lawrence... why not register as a Techdirt user? You seem to comment here often enough that I recognize your username.

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