4/06/2005

Food Companies Test Flavorings That Can Mimic Sugar, Salt, or MSG

Several big food and beverage companies are looking at a new ingredient in the battle for health-conscious consumers: a chemical that tricks the taste buds into sensing sugar or salt even when it is not there. Kraft Foods, Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Campbell Soup are all working with a biotechnology company called Senomyx, which has developed several chemicals, most of which do not have any flavor of their own but instead work by activating or blocking receptors in the mouth that are responsible for taste. They can enhance or replicate the taste of sugar, salt, and MSG in foods. By adding one of Senomyx’s flavorings to their products, manufacturers can, for instance, reduce the sugar in a cookie or salt in a can of soup by one-third to one-half while retaining the same sweetness or saltiness. This product has not yet been approved by the FDA, but if it does get approved do you think it will be something the health conscious consumer will demand? Or is the fad of eating and being healthy gone?

3 comments:

Eric said...

Heavens yes! Sounds like a heavenly product. I myself am a sugar lover and if I can eat 33% more sweats before getting that sugar stomach ache than I am a happy camper!

Fred said...

I would have to agree that it would be a popular thing. The fad of healthy eating is still a big ongoing trend, with many fast food places now creating more healthy choices for their customers. So if this was approved, I believe many companies would jump at the chance to use it and improve the quality of their products.

Dr. Tufte said...

Interesting ...

I can tell you one thing - public choice theory suggests that there will be a lot of bad press about such a sugar substitute. Sugar producers have already acquired economic rents, and they will freely spend them to preserve them into the future. Salt and MSG producers don't make nearly as much money, so there won't be nearly as much noise from them.