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Brief Published: 17 Apr 2014

3D-Printed Meals for the Elderly

Biozoon's pumpkin jelly

Researchers at German company Biozoon Food Innovations are working on a 3D printer that creates food specifically for elderly people.

Meals are prepared by pureeing and straining popular foods such as chicken, carrots and fruit into smooth substances, and then reconstructing them layer by layer into their original forms using the 3D printer.

The device will particularly benefit patients suffering from dysphagia – a common problem among the elderly that makes it difficult to swallow food – as the meals produced by the printer dissolve quickly in the mouth, making them easily digestible.

This new production method can also be customised to cater for specific dietary requirements. Ingredients can be modified to include different flavours and textures, as well as vitamins and nutrients, depending on the patient's individual needs.

Scientists have discovered that a root cause of malnutrition in the elderly is a loss of love for food, which Biozoon hopes to address by making eating easier and enjoyable again. The collaborative project, called Performance, has received an investment of €3m (around £2.5m) from the European Union, and the printer is being developed alongside other European small businesses. It is due to go into production by next year.

To read more about ways in which food brands are targeting older people, see Boomers & Food. For more on the developments of 3D-printing food technology, see New Food Aesthetic and Food Brands Embrace 3D Printing. For further research on appetite-enhancing tools for seniors, see Scent & Dementia.