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Finally! Japanese Company Creates Onion That Doesn’t Make You Cry

Thanks to Japanese company House Foods Group, tear-inducing onions could be a thing of the past! The company claims to have produced the world’s first ‘tear-free’ onion, by disabling the compounds that the popular vegetable releases when chopped.

According to a House Foods Group press release, their researchers have spent over a decade studying the chemistry of onions. In 2002 they published a study describing the biomechanical process of how chopping onions makes you cry, which won them them an Ig Nobel Prize – an award handed out to honor achievements organizers consider unintentionally funny.  In their paper, the scientists hypothesized that it would be possible to weaken the tear-inducing enzymes while maintaining the onion’s flavor and nutritional value.

And, in their recent announcement, House Foods Group claims to have turned the theory into a reality, by bombarding onion bulbs with irradiating ions which causes them to produce low amounts of enzymes. Apart from facilitating a completely tear-free chopping experience, the technique also makes the onion less pungent.

All 20 employees of House Foods have apparently tested the altered onions themselves and confirmed the complete absence of pungency. That means no more bad breath and smelly hands. According to the Japanese company, this is sure to put more smiles on the faces of whoever works in a kitchen.

However, not everyone agrees removing the tear-causing enzymes is a good idea. “They are often compounds that will repel insects or animals that try to bite into it. So everything is, I believe, very Darwinian from the standpoint of the chemistry of plants, a very large number of compounds that we view as either being pleasant smelling or unpleasant smelling,” chemist Eric Block told NPR. “They’re not there for our pleasure. They’re there to allow the plant to survive in a very hardscrabble world, a world where there are lots of worms in the ground and animals that would devour something that exists as a bulb and has to survive in the ground.”

Photo: House Food Group

These irradiated onions may not make you cry, but the announcement that House Foods Group has no plans to produce them commercially anytime soon, is sure to bring tears to the eyes of chefs and housewives around the world.

Sources: WSJ, Washington Post

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