Monday, April 28, 2014

Scientists develop 3D 'smoothfood' to provide nutritious meals for the elderly

Scientists have developed 3D super-smooth 'jellified' foods made to look like the regular meals we eat every day.

From broccoli to roast lamb, the printed food certainly looks very similar but the texture might be a surprise to some.
Funded by the EU, the Performance project is intended to give elderly people better access to appealing and nutritious food.
The printed food is the work of scientists at the company Biozoon, based in Germany.
Known as ‘Smoothfood’, the technique was developed by top chefs Markus Biedermann and Herbert Thill on the basis of modern texturisers manufactured by Biozoon.
It is a concept for cultivated eating in old age or for people with swallowing difficulties or other illnesses which make normal eating impossible.
Over 60% of elderly patients suffer from dysphagia, meaning that they struggle to swallow and digest food.

People can develop dysphagia as a result of old age, the aftermath of a stroke, suffering cancer or from several other illnesses.
Smoothfood uses raw, steamed, fresh or frozen foods which are chopped, mixed, pureed or whipped into a foam texture and then shaped so that people with chewing or swallowing difficulties can enjoy their meals.
The Smoothfood concept is the result of a €3 million (£2.5m; $4.2m) grant from the European Commission for the Performance project (Development of Personalised Food using Rapid Manufacturing for the Nutrition of Elderly Consumers).
‘The look and taste of the end product matches the original food item,’ said Mathias Kueck, founder of Biozoon and co-ordinator of the EU’s Performance.
‘But the texture is soft and gel-like. It dissolves easily in the mouth so that it is safe to eat for people with mastication [chewing] or swallowing problems.’
The technique deconstructs common foods such as chicken, carrots and fruits into a smooth form that can be eaten without chewing and then reconstructed to give the appearance of a conventional meal.

‘The aim is above all to show chefs and family carers that fresh food which fulfils the requirements of the individual patient can be prepared quickly, easily and with minimum effort,’ the company adds.

Each meal can also be specifically tailored to the person it is intended for.
This means that according to their nutritional needs they can get a meal that suits them best.
Once the meals have been printed, they are frozen and stored to be later heated up in a conventional microwave.

It is hoped Smoothfood will encourage elderly people to eat to get the nutrition they need from their meals.

1. Produce a broad variety of different, personalised meals and food products which consider the needs and preferences of each individual person.
2. Personalise meal composition (e.g. vegetarian, chicken, beef etc.), portion size, nutrient content (e.g. carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals) and texture (softness/hardness and vitamins).
3. Use personalised packaging with an integrated and unique identification code (for information management), special reusable trays and sealing for individualised heating of the food components of a meal.

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