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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    Anonymous Numbskull, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 10:05pm

    artificial sweetner=food additive?

    I mean, isn't anything you put into a food a food additive? Or are they using more rigid definitions here? Anyone care to clarify what the FDA defines as additive?

     

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      Michael Ho (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 11:59pm

      Re: artificial sweetner=food additive?

      The FDA has a definition on their website:
      http://www.fda.gov/food/foodingredientspackaging/ucm094211.htm#foodadd

      "In its broadest sense, a food additive is any substance added to food. Legally, the term refers to "any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result -- directly or indirectly -- in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food." This definition includes any substance used in the production, processing, treatment, packaging, transportation or storage of food. The purpose of the legal definition, however, is to impose a premarket approval requirement. Therefore, this definition excludes ingredients whose use is generally recognized as safe (where government approval is not needed), those ingredients approved for use by FDA or the U.S. Department of Agriculture prior to the food additives provisions of law, and color additives and pesticides where other legal premarket approval requirements apply."

       

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 1:59am

    Artificial Salteners?

    There are substances hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, which can be used in small amounts to impart a sweet taste to food while greatly lowering their sugar content. Yet why are there no substances hundreds of times saltier than salt?

     

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      Michael Ho (profile), Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 10:38am

      Re: Artificial Salteners?

      Lawrence,

      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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      Rekrul, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 10:48am

      Re: Artificial Salteners?

      They do make an artificial salt that tastes vaguely salt-like when added to food. It also has an extremely bitter after-taste, much worse than that of artificial sweetners. I think it was called No-Salt.

       

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    Christopher (profile), Dec 30th, 2011 @ 10:44am

    FDA redaction of its denial in 1974?

    I would think that's the lead story here. Can't the people bring suit against the FDA for violating FOIA by so much redaction?

    -C

     

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