April 9, 2014
Researchers in Europe are working on a 3D food printer that will be able to create easily digestible food, which not only maintains the shape and taste of the real thing, but can also be fortified with specific nutrients.
More than one in five Europeans will be aged 65 and over by 2025, and the EU is working to keep elderly people healthier for longer. In 2012 the EU launched PERFORMANCE project to develop and validate a holistic, personalized food supply chain for frail elderly in nursing homes. the PERFORMANCE concept will cover the whole supply chain from the food producer to the ready-to eat-meal at consumers place.
Elderly in general require careful consideration of various determinants of their nutritional and health status. In contrast to younger people, the impact of nutrition on their well-being and health status is way higher.
In addition studies suggest that one out of every five people over the age of 50 have problems swallowing their food – a condition known as dysphagia. Those with this problem have difficulties eating. The food could end up in the lungs instead of the stomach because their larynx doesn't close properly during swallowing. Sometimes, this can happen silently without any sign and can lead to pneumonia and renal failure or even death. In nursing homes, it is estimated that up to 60 % of people suffer from the dysphagia.
People are often fed 'porridge-like food' which has been pureed and mixed together from a variety of ingredients, said Matthias Kück, the chief executive of Biozoon Food Innovations in Germany, who is coordinating the EU-funded PERFORMANCE project.
'This can feel frustrating – especially when the plates of fellow residents are filled with chicken fillets and vegetables,' Kück said. 'Meals are the most important social event in a nursing home – it is when they meet together, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.'
To find a better solution, the three-year PERFORMANCE project is working on developing 3D food printer technology and specialised texturing systems to make safe, appetising meals for elderly people.
3D food printer © De Grood Innovations BV
The 3D printer will work in the similar way as a 2D printer - only the cartridges are filled with liquefied food, instead of ink. Each cartridge can be filled with different food, for example one for vegetables, one for meat and one for carbohydrates.
With 48 nozzles in the printer head, the printer will print food layer by layer. A gelation agent, which is currently being developed, will be added to the liquid in the cartridges, so that the food sticks together.
The 3D printed food is very soft and it melts in your mouth, says Kück. He expects that this reconstructed food can be customized, added different taste, or even specific vitamins or nutrients, as required by residents.
This special 3D food printer is expected to finish in 2015.
Posted in 3D Printers
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Ewwwww wrote at 4/26/2014 9:06:54 PM:
AMnerd wrote at 4/11/2014 11:38:40 AM:
Dan wrote at 4/10/2014 8:31:13 AM:
Great idea but if it is not self cleaning etc. it will not be much use.