3D Printed Meals for the Elderly

3D printing is a very exciting new technology that seems to have potential applications in a variety of fields, even in the area of food preparation. Food printing innovator, Biozoon, a German company, has been working on a 3D printer specifically designed to print food for the elderly. The printed food is capable of melting when it comes into contact with saliva, thereby making the food easier to swallow. This new food option can really help the elderly, especially since some 60% of older individuals have difficulty swallowing food. It is hoped that printed food might be used to help prevent malnutrition from occurring in those elderly individuals who have difficulty with chewing, swallowing or those who suffer from dysphagia.

3D Printing Food

According to the Biozoon website, the food product, referred to as seneoPro, can be printed using a standard extruder-based printer. The 3D printers are capable of printing a variety of textures and colors that can be printed onto the food item to make it appear more appetizing and more like the real food the printed food product is meant to represent. Once extruded, the food items solidify, but once exposed to saliva, the food product will melt, or dissolve, leaving no large food particles that require mastication, or chewing.

How It Works

The food product is produced using a process called molecular gastronomy. In effect, the food starts as a real cooked piece of food, for example, a chicken filet. The food is then pureed and strained so that it is a smooth liquid. This liquid can be infused with additives such as artificial colors, vitamin and mineral supplements, protein additives, and/or gelatin. These additives enhance the nutritional value of the food liquid. Next, the liquid is extruded through the 3D printer and then allowed to solidify, resulting in a finalized food product.

The food can be printed to look like any type of food. Once printed and solidified, the printed food can be cut into small pieces for consumption or spooned into the mouth. The food melts upon contact with saliva, so chewing the food is not necessarily imperative to eating the printed food. The fact that the food is able to melt in someone’s mouth will likely help reduce choking hazards in the elderly population, and those who have orthodontic problems or dysphagia could easily ingest the printed food.

Other Nations Are Getting Behind New Technology To Improve the Lives of The Elderly

As over half of elderly individuals living in nursing care facilities have difficulty swallowing or chewing foods, this type of innovation will likely be greeted with open arms by the elderly care community. In fact, there is so much promise in this new application of 3D printing technology that the European Union (EU) has just recently dedicated 80 billion Euros to a research fund designed to tackle the challenges associated with accommodating an aging population. One of the projects the EU is interested in pursuing is figuring out a way to improve the quality of life of its aging citizens. The EU anticipates that one in five of its people will be aged 65 or older by 2025. As such, the EU is looking to take steps now in preparation for the future.

Contacting A Malnutrition Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered from malnutrition or dehydration while residing at a nursing home, you should contact a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney as soon as possible to voice your concerns. Please feel free to contact the experienced attorneys at The Rooth Law Firm either online or by telephone today by calling (847) 869-9100.

Photo Credit: faith goble via Compfight cc