Go to the cafeteria of a nursing home and you’ll see elderly residents noshing on pureed food. It’s necessary for patients for whom chewing is difficult, but it’s not very palatable. A German company is seeking to change that by making 3D-printed, easy-to-chew food that actually tastes good.
The company behind the project is called Biozoon Smoothfood. It’s using liquified ingredients—vegetables, carbs, meat, etc.—in the place of the ink or PLA that a 3D printer would normally use. Ingredients are inserted into the cartridges of the printer, and with the help of a binding agent, they come out as food that pretty much melts in your mouth. For now they’re making six foods: cauliflower, peas, chicken, pork, potatoes, and pasta. But more food is on the menu for the future.
The food can come out in whatever shape the software of the program has dictated. Remember, this is 3D printing we’re talking about, so the user is afforded a lot of freedom. However, Biozoon is making food items in their shapes, so it’s not much of a break from what these elderly people would probably prefer to be eating in the first place. (Read: regular food or a normal consistency).
Right now the food is made off-site, and sent to homes. But the goal is that eventually, Biozoon will be able to place printers directly in the homes. Many elderly people really need this, as they suffer from dysphagia, a condition that often plagues stroke victims, causes trouble swallowing, and could result in choking. And if 3D printing makes it so your dear grandmother never has to eat pureed beets again, we all win.