Printing up the perfect plate of food

Picture a mouth-watering meal. Are you thinking of assorted mounds of mystery mash? Probably not - and if you rely on pureed food, that is an issue. EU-funded researchers have turned to 3D printing to find a way to prepare appealing food for people who cannot chew, in a bid to help preserve their nutritional status and quality of life.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 14 June 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & food
Industrial research
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Austria  |  Denmark  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  Netherlands
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Printing up the perfect plate of food

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© nukies1234 #205355948, 2018. Source: fotolia.com

The 3D food printing process proposed by the EU-funded Performance project is designed to produce tempting, nutritious meals for people with chewing or swallowing difficulties. It is an evolution of the Smoothfood concept introduced by lead partner Biozoon, says project coordinator Matthias Kück on behalf of this German food innovation company.

Presentation is one of the key assets of this unusual cuisine: while the various foods on the plate are mashed, each is set in a recognisable form. A gelling agent ensures that the meal holds its shape.

The process initially developed involves the use of silicone moulds. Kück, who refers to this stage in the deployment of the concept as ‘Smoothfood 1.0’, reports that it is already being implemented by some 1 500 retirement homes and hospitals.

The Performance project, he notes, was launched to take the idea to the next level with the help of 3D printing. The aim, more specifically, was to make these meals faster, easier and more cost-effective to put together, potentially on an industrial scale, and thereby to make them more widely available. ‘Smoothfood 2.0’ involves pureed, strained foods such as cauliflower, pasta or meat being layered to replicate recognisable servings of each and produce an enticing, instantly identifiable dish.

As a further advantage, this additive manufacturing technique allows for personalisation, despite the fact that it is intended for rapid production of large numbers of such meals. Aspects such as the composition, amount and calorie content of individual plates of food can be adapted to accommodate the preferences and nutritional requirements of specific consumers. The meals, once printed, are frozen and subsequently reheated.

The Performance project ended in October 2015. “It demonstrated, for the first time, that it is possible to use fresh food in a 3D printing process,” Kück says. “We are continuing trials for the production of ready-to-eat Smoothfood meals,” he concludes..

Project details

  • Project acronym: Performance
  • Participants: Germany (Coordinator), Austria, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands
  • Project number:: 312092
  • Total costs: € 4 025 146
  • EU contribution: € 2 997 886
  • Duration: November 2012 to October 2015

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