Sweet story: How a chocolate bar could help stop the spread of viruses like COVID-19

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — For the past year, Dr. Michael Kinzel and his team at the University of Central Florida’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department have studied the power of transmitting viruses like COVID-19.

The thinner it is, the farther that risk can fly.

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Their published work has led the team to see if it could change how much saliva people actually release and they found the answer in food.

The team saw how common ingredients that hold foods together such as xanthan gum and ginger can change the thickness of saliva, working like a mask inside your mouth so there’s nothing to spray out.

From there, they cooked up a chocolate bar to do it that’s now on the market.

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“We can even make it organic if we wanted to,” Kinzel said. “It’s pretty cool. Some of the data we have show that it works for up to eight hours.”

Future possibilities include larger-scale use of the food-thickening ingredients themselves in the menus of restaurants and school cafeterias.

The findings suggest that combining this “choco-ceutical” with wearing a mask can only increase the saliva stopping.

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Not everyone emits the same number of droplets, so the range of effectiveness varies from person to person, but early data is strong.

“We’ve been able to observe the 80% to 90% reduction in aerosols, so it can be pretty effective, Kinzel said. “As we start to publish more and more data, I think it will be pretty compelling.”

There’s also iron, vitamin C and D and zinc in the chocolate, so it’s essentially a supplement.

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Find out more about the product here.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.