February 21/Nottingham, U.K./PSFK -- Food scientists from the University of Nottingham have been researching how salt is released from chips into the mouth and have identified that the “salt burst” occurs 20 seconds after chewing has started. With this knowledge, their goal is to reduce the sodium content of chips by developing technologies that accelerate the salt delivery time. This new approach could mean healthier chips (and other snack foods) that have less salt but taste the same.

Dr. Ian Fisk, a lecturer in the Division of Food Sciences, and Masters Project student Xing Tian, used a panel of 10 food tasters to help measure salt release. They were instructed to chew chips a specific number of times and keep them in their mouths for one minute before swallowing. Tongue swabs were taken and analyzed to monitor the levels of salt.

Fisk says the “salt burst” is released 20 seconds after chewing begins, which usually means the chip has already been swallowed before most of the salty taste is detected. The food scientists now aim to develop a series of technologies that accelerate salt delivery by adjusting the “salt burst” to within the time a person normally chews and swallows. This would result in the need for less salt in order to achieve the same taste.

 From the February 21, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.