Science Notes & News

Sure to be of interest to many reefkeepers is this abstract of a paper to be presented at the 12th Annual Joint Symposium of the Royal Academy of Hypertensives, RAH, and the American Society for the Tasting of Materials, ASTM; to be held June 3-7 in New York, New York.

A Round-Robin Panel Evaluation of the Properties of Synthetic Sea Salt Mixes as Compared to a Standard Reference Material. Mario Batali, Presenter.


There is considerable debate in the scientific community about the attributes of the compositions of the various Synthetic Sea Salt Mixes, SSSM's, (sometimes known as Artificial Sea Water, ASW) available on the market. To this end, we endeavored to quell some of this debate by conducting a round-robin panel assessment of seven commercially available SSSM's and compared them to a standard reference material. This standard, Morton's Table Salt-Iodized (Morton International, Inc; Chicago, Ill.), was evaluated against the SSSM's by a panel of nine experts.

Each member of the panel was given large portions of McDonald's French Fries (McDonald's Company; Oak Brook, Ill.) left unsalted. They then applied liberal portions of the seven selected SSSM's to these fries. The panel then conducted sensory evaluations of each SSSM as compared to the standard material. Following this rigorous testing they were asked to evaluate the various products.

Unfortunately, the most senior member of this panel was forced to withdraw early in the testing because of acute attacks of Angina Pectoris. This left only eight panelists to continue evaluations.

After testing, all panelists agreed there was little difference between the SSSM's but marked flavor differences when compared to the Morton's Salt standard. The most notable difference was not one of taste, but the SSSM's did not exit the salt dispensers as easily as the reference material. This may be attributed to the sodium silicoaluminate, an anti-caking agent, present in the Morton's but lacking in the SSSM group. The study was conducted on a very humid and rainy day. This difference caused one distinguished panelist to remark about the Morton's, "When it Precipitates, it Flows!"

Some of the panel complained of flatulence, abdominal cramps and diarrhea while using the SSSM's. This is thought to be from the high levels of calcium and magnesium sulfates present in the SSSM's but absent in the Morton's.

In a concurrent co-study, researcher Martha Stewart, ran a double blind analysis of one of the more popular SSSM's, Instant Ocean (IO), against the standard Morton's using the male population at a Danbury, Ct. Institution, FCI. Half of the study group received IO in their meals while the other half received Morton's Iodized.

The most common comment is this test group was that the IO tasted like it had saltpeter, sodium nitrate, as a component. This compound has been said to reduce male libido when consumed in the diet. As the manufacturer of IO claimed this compound was not present in their formula, Ms. Stewart thought further analysis was warranted. She personally examined the portion of the test group, 231 males, who commented about the saltpeter. Dissatisfied with those results, she decided to test the entire group, 1274 males, for dysfunctions.

This work was extremely exhausting on Ms. Stewart and she has since returned home to rest and conduct detailed mathematical analysis on her data using the SPSD (Statistical Program for the Social Diseases) as her analysis tool. She will hopefully recover and be able to present her work as a separate paper at the symposium.

It was also announced that Public Broadcasting, PBS, plans to tape the panel taste test presentation and air it on their show "America's Test Kitchen" following the conference. Plans are also in the works to have Ms. Stewart's findings aired by Women's Entertainment, WE, on the show "Talk Sex."

If you have any questions about this article or suggestions for future topics, please visit my author forum on Reef Central.

Reefkeeping Magazine™ Reef Central, LLC-Copyright © 2005

Science Notes & News.-