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Development of Personalised Food using Rapid Manufacturing for the Nutrition of elderly Consumers

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Personalised food for the elderly

More than 1 in 5 people over the age of 50 suffer from dysphagia, chewing and swallowing difficulties. An EU-funded project is developing personalised food for this population.

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The main idea of the project 'Development of personalised food using rapid manufacturing for the nutrition of elderly consumers' (PERFORMANCE) is to develop and validate a holistic, personalised food supply chain for the frail and elderly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities or at home. The supply chain begins with the food preferences of the elderly, followed by manufacturing and supply of the personalised, specially textured food. The chain ends with consumption of the food. The project is unique in that it is using innovative 3D printing of the food items, which are packed and shipped frozen, ready to be heated up in the microwave. The nutritional quality of the food is also assured. Thus far, the team has already made much progress. The nutritional requirements of the consumers, as well as their preferences, have been established. Specific supply chains have been identified, mapped and assessed so that the necessary logistics and distribution requirements can be defined. The selection of plastic materials for serving and packaging, appropriate for the microwave has also been determined. Through extensive screening and experimentation, researchers have developed a mixture that enables certain foods to be converted into gelled food and foam gels ready for 3D printing. To reach this point, the team had to determine the correct ratios of food puree, gelling agent, and macronutrients such as oil and whey protein. The new technologies and products being developed have the potential to improve the taste and nutritional quality of food for people with dysphagia. The meals are also tailored to individual requirements for portion size, specific caloric and nutritional values, and texture preferences. PERFORMANCE is the first project using 3D printing technology to serve a target group — the more than 10 million frail and elderly in Europe. The personalisation of food production is an underexplored but fast-growing industrial area that has the potential to be put to use in numerous other ways.

Keywords

Personalised food, elderly, dysphagia, rapid manufacturing, nutrition, 3D printing

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