They develop nutritious food intended for the elderly group

SADA Group and AINIA have developed new easy-to-cook food products in response to the increasing demand of older and older consumers for healthy food products that can be easily and simply cooked in a microwave oven.

In 2020, 30% of the EU population will be over 65 years old. In this context, it is important that the food industry can respond to the demands of the older group, through the design and development of attractive, comfortable and easy-to-handle food. In addition, these must be foods that meet the specific nutritional characteristics of this segment of the population that is most sensitive to nutritional imbalances and deficiencies.

Breaded chicken enriched with magnesium and calcium to cover possible nutritional deficiencies associated with the elderly; Chicken and vegetable puree for people with swallowing difficulties; and vacuum-packed chicken in jus similar to traditional recipes, easy to handle and easy to prepare in the microwave.

Some elderly people, as a side effect of paralysis or neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s…) or because of problems with chewing or reduced strength in the tongue, may have difficulty swallowing food, which is why they need products adapted to their condition. the situation.

For Mª Paz Villalba, from the New Products and Processes Department of AINIA, “the progressive interest of consumers in the impact of nutrition on health has led food companies to design new nutritionally balanced products and healthy ingredients; very much in line with the preferences of older consumers.”

For example, due to tissue degeneration and loss of muscle mass, older people need to consume more protein. In this sense, chicken products are rich in proteins, are a source of vitamins and minerals, and are poor in fats and saturated fatty acids.

According to Manuel Ángel Gómez of Grupo SADA, “these products have been developed taking into account the nutritional needs and ease of use and handling required by the third and fourth ages. To achieve this, we have worked directly with senior consumers and those responsible for dependent seniors to understand and provide solutions to their needs. It should be noted that the elderly are aware that quality nutrition can enable them to lead a healthier life.”

In the first phase of this project, market research was conducted with older consumers in order to understand their requirements, needs and preferences. As a result, it was found that this group prefers:

– Dishes similar to the traditional recipe (from healthy products and natural ingredients, completely recognizable and prepared without chemical additives)

-Transparent plastic containers that allow them to clearly see the product they are about to eat.

-Cooked in the microwave or ready-to-heat recipes.

-Packages that are easy to handle and easy to open.

-Healthy products, with few calories and fat.

In the second phase, scientific and commercial research into new ingredients, additives… was carried out, and the product formulation, the technology to be applied, the packaging system, and the characteristics of the product susceptible to degradation during canning and storage were determined. defined, etc.

Then, in the pilot plant, prototypes of chicken products were developed as a basic ingredient, with the assessment of various physico-chemical, organoleptic and/or nutritional parameters of the ingredients and raw materials used, as well as the obtained products.

Furthermore, product acceptance was assessed, both in terms of their sensory characteristics and any aspect related to it (packaging…), through product tests and acceptance and preference studies conducted with an older group.

Finally, microbiological, physico-chemical and sensory analyzes determined the useful life of each product (time during which it maintains sensory quality, safety and stability properties).

These results are part of the GOLDENFOOD project, which spent two years researching the development of a new range of nutritionally balanced products, intended for the third and fourth age of life, from a generation of food solutions that combine and integrate new processes of transformation, packaging suitable for this public, storage and handling by the end user .

Source: AINIA Technology Center

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