IRTA produces juice prototypes and purees enriched with proteins, minerals, and vitamins for the elderly
The research is part of the European OPTIFEL project, focused in the development of food for aged people
The aim is to avoid malnutrition and adapt the products to the needs of this sector of the population
Data from Eurostat indicates that 30% of the European population will be over 65 as from 2060, and one from every eight people will be over 80. The challenge for the food and restaurant industry is to develop innovative foods and services adapted to the nutritional needs of the aged.
IRTA´s researchers have been engaged in the production of food prototypes based on fruit and vegetables that meet the specifications for use, as well as functional, in the elderly. Some of the developed foods are liquid, similar to a smoothie, and others are soft solid, such as soft apple rings. Some of these products have been enriched with proteins, minerals, or/and vitamins. For the development of these prototypes, conventional thermal treatments for preservation have been used, as well as novel technologies more respectful with the sensorial and nutritional properties of foods, as for example high pressure processing (HPP) or Joule heating.
The research has also taken into consideration an adequate packaging, to extend the product´s shelf life and/or make it easier to use by the aged population. Furthermore, industrial production has been done to analyze national and international distribution logistics of the final products, and detect any potential difficulties.
The European OPTIFEL project
The works carried out by IRTA are part of the European OPTIFEL project, which aims to develop new products based on vegetables and fruits to help the aged population be self-sufficient for a longer time.
The target population in this project is older people who cook at home or make use of prepared food services. The sensory values of the prototypes have been characterized by a panel of tasters and the industrially produced foods have been tasted by consumers (aged people living in nursing homes or at home).
Twenty-six (26) European entities and companies are part of the project (which is in its final stage), which has received 3-million funding from the EU. The French technological center INRA has led the project. Regarding Spanish entities, the following are involved IRTA, the Fundación Alicia, and the companies Casa Mas and Emporhotel.