Japanese researchers develop electric chopsticks to improve salty taste

TOKYO, April 19 (Reuters) – Japanese researchers have developed computerized chopsticks that improve savory tastes, potentially helping those who need to cut sodium in their diets.

Co-developed by Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita and beverage maker Kirin Holdings Co. (2503.T), the chopsticks improve tastes using electrical stimulation and a mini-computer worn on a bracelet.

The device uses a weak electric current to deliver sodium ions from food, through the chopsticks, to the mouth where they create a salty sensation, Miyashita said.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Register

“As a result, the salty taste is multiplied by 1.5,” he said.

Miyashita and her lab explored various ways technology can interact with and stimulate human sensory experiences. He has also developed a lickable television screen that can mimic various food flavors.

Flavor-enhancing chopsticks may have particular significance in Japan, where the traditional diet favors savory tastes. The average Japanese adult consumes around 10 grams of salt per day, which is twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organization.

Excess sodium intake is linked to an increased incidence of high blood pressure, strokes and other conditions.

“To prevent these diseases, we need to reduce the amount of salt we consume,” said Kirin researcher Ai Sato.

“If we try to avoid taking less salt in the conventional way, we would need to endure the pain of cutting our favorite food from our diet or eating bland foods.”

Miyashita and Kirin are fine-tuning their prototype chopsticks and hope to release them next year.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Register

Reporting by Rikako Murayama, Akiko Okamoto and Rocky Swift; Editing by Tom Hogue

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.