Special food should look good and taste good, as well as being nutritious and easy to eat. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Nofima

Project Year 2016

Food to suit every palate

The number of people with chewing and swallowing difficulties is rising. Scientists, chefs and food producers want to ensure that they too can have attractive, tasty and nutritious food.

Some people struggle to chew or swallow food for a variety of reasons. Many of these are elderly, and the problems can often lead to malnutrition.

Good, nutritious food is important for quality of life, helps prevent unnecessary health problems and ultimately saves society resources.

The special food these people need cannot be bought in shops, which is a problem for people with eating difficulties who live at home and who buy their own food. This group is predicted to grow significantly in coming years.

New meal concepts

Senior Scientist Jan Thomas Rosnes is working on creating new meal concepts that can alleviate the situation. In collaboration with research colleagues and chefs, he is investigating how food ought to be processed to achieve a texture that best suits individuals with eating difficulties.

In order to achieve the optimum consistency and texture for the different needs, so-called “consistency modifiers” are added to the food. The researchers are testing soya, bean starch and the algae product agar, among others.

“Aspects we are looking into include how different temperatures affect the colour of the food, fluid loss and nutritional content, and the shelf life of this food,” says Rosnes.

International experts disagree on how to define and measure texture levels for elderly people. The researchers are therefore working to identify the best indicators that can be used in research projects and in the development of equipment.

Pure, nutritious and attractive dishes

The knowledge produced will be used to create products from pure foods such as vegetables, fish, milk, grains, eggs and fruit, with a high natural content of protein and energy.

The researchers are also looking at food with a high conSpecial food should look good and taste good, as well as being nutritious and easy to eat. tent of one type of nutrient, for people who need greater amounts of this. However, the shape and colour of the food are also important.

“How the dishes look is very important. It is often said that ‘we eat with our eyes’. Attractive food is more appetising, which is particularly important for people who are undernourished or at risk of becoming so,” says Rosnes.

The knowledge platform “Food has not been provided until it has been eaten” by Måltidets Hus AS.

The Regional Research Fund Vestlandet (RFF Vest)

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