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Monell Gets $1 Million to Further Salt Taste Perception Research

Posted: January 8, 2013

The Monell Center has received $1 million to support further research on human salt detection and perception, which could help spur innovation for salt reduction in processed food. 

“My overarching question is: how can we make food more healthy? This is why it is so important for us to understand how salty taste works,” said food chemistry consultant Louise Slade, who made the donation to Monell, an independent, non-profit scientific institute focused on taste and smell research.

“Monell’s broad collective approach to science produces knowledge that can benefit lives on a daily basis,” said Slade. “Moreover, the basic scientists at Monell communicate directly with the food industry, which is essential if industry is to successfully reduce the amount of sodium in processed food, by far the greatest source of sodium in our diets.”

Originally trained as a protein chemist, Slade retired in 2006 after a 27-year career in the food industry and is now a principal of Food Polymer Science Consultancy. Slade's gift will underwrite the expansion of Monell’s ongoing interdisciplinary research program on the mechanisms and functions of salty taste. 

To date, the call to reduce salt intake has not been successful, in part because humans like the taste of salt. However, the basic mechanisms underlying detection and acceptance of salty taste still remain incompletely understood. World-renowned experts in molecular biology, human sensory perception, developmental psychobiology, and other fields are working together with the goal of achieving a complete understanding of this complex and elusive topic.

“The development of practical and successful methods to reduce salt intake likely will not be possible without a more thorough understanding of exactly how humans detect salty taste and the factors that modify salty taste acceptance," said Gary Beauchamp, Monell's director.