Experts in the fields of 3D food printing, dysphagia and personalised food have spent three years creating appetising, nutritious and easy to swallow 3D printed meals for the elderly.
At a consortium in Brussels last week, the “Performance” project (Personalised Food for the Nutrition of Elderly Consumers) was revealed.
Around fourteen countries and 3 million euros from the EU have been involved in this project over the last three years to create a personalised food supply chain using 3D printing technology.
This project was developed as there is increasing concern over ageing populations throughout the world and currently up to 60% of nursing home residents suffer from dysphagia, the difficulty in swallowing food.
The solutions to this problem, from pureed or mashed up food, can be demoralising for elderly patients and can even lead to a loss of appetite and even malnutrition.
Scientists have now been able to re-create classic comfort food thanks to FoodJet 3D food printers. This technique means scientists can mimic taste, texture and even incorporate additional nutritional value. The benefits are that the elderly are more likely to actually want to eat these meals which are much easier to swallow.
The “Performance” project involves countries such as Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark, and is headed by German food innovation company Biozoon.
The food works by taking natural, pureed ingredients, and then using a special 3D printer and gelling agent to restore their natural texture and shape. The process is capable of supporting food matrices such as meat, carbohydrate and vegetables to create well-balanced and nutritious meals.
Pascal de Grood of Foodjet, Netherlands said: “Printed puréed food needs to be firm after printing, but liquid enough to dispense from the printing heads. ‘We use a printing technology based on jet printing. A gelling agent supports the shaping of the puréed and strained food.”
The “Performance” concept has even found a way to make sure the entire process from producer to heating the meal has been covered. This includes the development of ‘active packaging’ that ensures even heating throughout the meal to an algorithm created by German IT company Sanalogic that monitors the nutritional needs of each patient and automatically enriches the 3D printed meal to ensure a well-balanced diet.
Marketing has begun for this project so you may see these meals on your plates sooner than you think. Would you be happy to eat them?
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