Engay-food: Is this the future of food for the elderly?

Choke-proof food may well be the innovation that the seniors expected.

Did you know that more old Japanese die each year of choking than in traffic accidents? Dysphagia can occur at any age but is often seen among the elderly. The decrease in the production of saliva, a reduction of oral muscle strengths, or neurological disorders can lead to more frequent dysphagia. Swallowing food becomes more and more difficult as people age. Liquids can be challenging to swallow, and we all have memories of choking while drinking water. Swallowing disorders can lead to pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration, and death.

In super-aging Japan, Dysphagia is becoming a real threat to the elderly population. For new year’s eve, it is traditional to eat sticky rice cakes known as “mochi.” Authorities had to issue warnings to warn people about the risks of choking when eating this treat. Somehow, every year a couple of dozens of people have to be brought to the hospital, and some of them even die.

Engay-food of “swallow food” might be the solution and brings back dignity to old people who do not have to eat only pureed food or other unappetizing preparations. Engay is Japanese for swallow and came for a simple concept. The elderly want to eat food that will have the aspect of real food, but without the risks associated with them when chewing and swallowing abilities are reduced.

Nutri. Co. Ltd. is the leader in this growing market. The idea is to prepare the food traditionally, then to blend it and to add a food thickener or jellifying agent that will allow reshaping the pureed food as close as possible to the original. Grilled marks using a torch, or glazing can even be added to improve the illusion and make the final product as appetizing as possible.

Nutri. Co. Ltd. offers a vast range of thickening agents that can be used for texturizing food, rice porridge, or even liquids. When put in the mouth, the preparations will not need any chewing, and the elderly will be able to swallow them safely.

Engay food is gaining a lot of traction in Japan, and some restaurant even offers some menus, including choke-proof delicacies. As reported by the New-York times, in the vicinity of Yokohama, elderly-care companies organize special lunch out for their residents in a nearby specialized engay-food restaurant.

Is this choke-proof food the future of nutrition for aged people? It might be. We shall remember that in 1995, the Heinz company initiated a new concept of pureed food for the elderly after noting than 15% of Baby Food was consumed by aged citizens having chewing difficulties. The appearance of the final product and marketing did not appeal to customers and was a failure. Engay-food is a way to provide a safer eating experience to the elderly while maintaining the appearance of the product as close as possible to a typical slice of salmon, steak, or vegetables.

In 2050, more than 30 million Japanese will be over 65. No doubt that innovation in nutrition or in aged-care will continue to flourish in Japan and that Engay-Food might just be leading the way to what will become the next culinary evolution.



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