Biotech scientists have found a way to optimise how sugar triggers our taste receptors, which could mean 40% less sugar delivering the same sweet taste from cakes and other confectionary in the near future. Ok, in the grand scheme of things increasing crop yields to feed the world while reducing the need for polluting pesticides, or nanobots precisely delivering cancer-combating proteins through the blood stream, are certainly more important biotech developments. But who, at least those who suffer from a sweet tooth, won’t rejoice in what might seem a more trivial development?
Also, with high sugar intake now thought to be one of the most damaging patterns to human health, food manufacturers slashing the sugar content of their products could prove to be just as important a biotech breakthrough as pharmaceuticals tackling other health issues, illnesses and diseases. Israeli company DouxMatok has uncovered a way to ensure the vast majority of sugar in something we eat hits our tastes buds.
Normally, the majority of the sugar content in a sweet treat misses our taste receptors and goes straight to our stomach. DouxMatok, has taken inspiration from the new generation of biotech pharmaceuticals in which drug molecules use ‘carriers’ that make sure the correct dosage reaches the right part of our bodies. Biotech scientists at the company have now found a way to replicate this with sugar so a much greater percentage of sugar content in food hits and ‘lingers’ around the taste receptors of the person eating it.
Trials have proven successful enough that the company has now signed an agreement with Germany’s Südzucker, Europe’s biggest producer of sugar, to bring DouxMatok’s new ‘super sugar’ to market. The company’s CEO, Eran Baniel, thinks products containing his company’s sugar will be on supermarket shelves by 2020. He expects the breakthrough to allow manufacturers to drop sugar content by up to 40%.
One issue that still needs to be resolved is how to maintain the size of products that are particularly high in sugar content. For example, some chocolate bars contain as much as 55% sugar. Cutting that almost in half would logically make the bar much smaller and the difference will have to be made up by increasing the quantities of other, more expensive, ingredients. This could raise prices by as much as 10%. However, that’s surely a reasonable price to pay to enjoy the same treats that have the same taste and same basic ingredients but 40% less sugar!? Good job biotech!