Due to its medical applications, food printing is providing many new possibilities for disenfranchised groups. One of the ways it does this is through novel designs and textures, which particularly appeal to the elderly. One example of where 3D printing meals for the elderly has succeeded is in Sweden, where multiple municipalities are employing the technology to create foods that appear enticing to the elderly population by designing them a certain way.
Halmstad municipality’s head of catering, Richard Asplund, believes that elderly people consider it difficult to chew and swallow and the pureed food that is served nowadays. While this food is edible, it does not look very appetizing to many elderly folk. As a result they came up with a method to puré food so it will look aesthetically pleasing. These designs also match the designs of traditional food that the elderly residents may find appealing.
The project has thus taken it upon themselves to process chicken and broccoli, reconstituting it into drumsticks and florets. They now serve the food in square and circular slabs, thickening it with starch and eggs. While this form may seem basic, the food may encourage the elderly people to eat more.
The food remains similar to the purified food but also resembles recognisable, familiar dishes. Richard Asplund said the texture would resemble chicken leg, however the consistency may be comparable to panna cotta. Another partner in this project is Evelina Hoglund from the state innovation agency “Rise”. Rise have been helping dysphagia patients, who have difficulty swallowing, to eat sufficient food.
The primary obstacle for the various participants of the project was technological. They used 3D printers that were meant for medical devices and got them to print food. While many voiced their concerns about 3D printed food, they acknowledge its necessity in the current environment.
Helsingborg and Halmstad municipalities in Sweden will be testing out the new foods by late 2019. The collaboration also feature multiple Swedish municipalities, state innovation agency Rise, 3D printing companies Addema and Cellink, along with food providers Solina and Findus and researchers from University of Kristianstad and Lund University.
Featured image courtesy of Time Out.