As we inevitably grow older and our bodies begin to descend with age, chewing and swallowing some of our favorite foods become one of the many difficulties we may have to face as people reach an elderly age. Harmful conditions such as strokes and dementia often lead to a loss in eating abilities, forcing older people to settle for unfavorable ‘mash-type’ meals, which are much less nutritious and appealing then they could be. But with methods of 3D printing food on the rise, the European-based PERFORMANCE (Personalized Food for the Nutrition of Elderly Consumers) concept is taking advantage of the technology to help recreate the elderly’s favorite dishes not only in taste, but in texture and nutritional value as well. The initiative has already showcased 3D printed foods for nursing home elderly in the past, but their latest endeavor uses 3D printing to recreate the actual form and feeling of classic dishes.
“We use a printing technology based on jet printing. A gelling agent supports the shaping of the pureed and strained food,” says Pascal de Grood of Foodjet, Netherlands. “On the one hand the gelling agent needs to be compatible with the printing system, while on the other hand the printing system must support food matrices such as meat, carbohydrate and vegetables.”
The project involves may European countries, including Italy, Austria, Netherlands, and Denmark, and is heading by the German-based food innovation company Biozoon. By taking pureed ingredients and utilizing 3D printing technology in order to revive the natural texture and shape of the selected food or dish, the PERFORMANCE concept is giving the elderly access to classic foods such as gnocchi and peas. Not only are these foods completely redesigned back into their natural form or dish setting, they are also personalized to fit the necessary nutrients, portion size, and any other needs of each elderly patient.
Before the elderly customer’s personalized food order is 3D printed, the PERFORMANCE concept uses an algorithm programmed by the German IT company Sanalogic, which monitors the nutritional value of each patient on a weekly basis, while other European-based enterprises helped with the packaging and set-up of the program. All in all, the PERFORMANCE concept is providing nursing home residents with eating troubles a chance to relive their favorite dishes from the past. With a uniquely developed 3D food printer, European’s elderly folk can now once again experience the texture, nutrition, and excitement of their favorite foods even in the mash-type puree form.