People who have difficulty chewing and swallowing often have trouble finding suitable food that is also appealing and nutritious to eat. In the project SoftBite, a new solution is developed that allows for food to look, smell and taste like the original will still providing the right consistency and nutrition for this target group. It will be a new collaboration between Mello IVS, Danish Technological Institute and Pack Design.
Needs from an increasing number of people with difficulty chewing and swallowing
There are estimated 40 million people or more in Europe suffering from chewing and swallowing disorders (dysphagia)*. The predominant proportion of these are elderly, however there are also many younger people with the same issue. Their food needs to be a special consistency in order to aid safe ingestion without choking, coughing or asphyxiation. Today, this consistency is often achieved by diluting, blending and thickening the food, which is then poured into molds to set.
- Today, professionals in hospitals and nursing homes do their best with the opportunities they have. We will offer new solutions that improve the quality of these foods to make them more appealing and appetizing - also for the people in their own homes where we also plan to improve availability (of these soft foods), explains CEO Lisa Tammi of Mello IVS, who is behind the concept.
Inspiration from abroad
Mello IVS has been far away in countries such as Japan, Korea and Australia for inspiration. In Japan for example, enzyme-based food impregnations are widespread. It has the advantage that food can be swallowed more easily and to a greater extent preserves nutritional content, taste, color and odor. This type of solution must therefore be developed for Danish and European conditions.
Knowledge of ingredients and food consistency
To achieve this, Mello IVS has allied itself with Danish Technological Institute. Here, the various possible combinations of enzymes must be developed and tested to find the right solution and process conditions.
- Danish Technological Institute contributes technical knowledge in enzymes, process optimization and measurement of the quality of a food. We do not even have this level of knowledge or access to specialized laboratories. That's why we need partners, explains Lisa Tammi, Mello IVS.
Senior project specialist Bianca Celidet Pérez de Lucani from Danish Technological Institute is linked to the project:
- Our knowledge of enzymes and texture of food is crucial here. We can measure all relevant parameters in our food laboratories. We have a systematic approach, which is particularly crucial here, because there are so many combination options, explains Bianca Celidet Pérez de Lucani, Danish Technological Institute.
The right packaging
Once the right ingredient solution has been developed, it should also be available in the right packaging to make it easy to access in large kitchens or from food manufacturers who deliver to private homes. That's why Pack Design is also part of the project.
- We have many years of experience in packaging design. We look forward to contributing to the packaging concept in this project, explains Director Peter Reimer of Pack Design.
The project is supported by Future Food Innovation, that is financed by EU regional fond. Read more here.
* Source: The European Society for Swallowing Disorders (ESSD)