Joel Andrade is a food technologist. He did his masters degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of Queensland and holds a bachelors degree in Biotechnology. With a deep understanding of the technical aspects of food, Joel develops new products and technologies at Nutritious Cuisine, a dynamic food manufacturer that produces clean label food service solutions for the hospitality and aged care sector.
Joel’s latest project has been to develop safe, nutritious and appealing texture modified foods that abide by the new International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) framework.
We were lucky enough to have a chat with Joel to learn how innovation and increased food safety is helping to overcome the challenges posed by texture modification and the risks associated with some thickening practices.
How Have You Found The Transition To The New IDDSI Framework?
“I see it as a good thing because of the new clarity it provides. Even though there are a lot more levels, there are less blurred lines, as each level is more specific than it was before.”
Nutritious Cuisine Doesn’t Use Moulds, Why Is That?
“With moulds, there is always double-handling – you’re handling the food while making it, then you’ve got to cast it into a mould, let it set and then take it out of the mould – by which time it has been handled multiple times. At Nutritious Cuisine, we handle the product once. It goes into a machine, is formed onto a tray and then snap frozen, so handling is minimised. Another thing with moulds is that you always have the risk of breakages, you have the risk of the mould not being cleaned properly because of the cracks and crevices and there are multiple moulds, so creating texture modified food manually means you’re tripling the risk. With a machine, there is only one pass through a mould, after which the machine is rigorously cleaned and sanitised.”
You Mentioned That The Order Of Mincing And Cooking Impacts The Food’s Shelf Life, Why Is That?
“When you mince a product you actually get a higher chance of microbial growth occurring because you have increased the surface area of the product. If you mince after cooking the product you don’t really have a kill step after the mincing. We mince prior to cooking and all ingredients are cooked together, effectively mitigating the risk of increasing the surface area after we’ve used our kill-step.”
Nutritious Cuisine’s New Thickener Product Is Made With Vegetable Fibres And Starches. Can You Explain Why This Is Better Than Commercial Thickeners Currently Available?
“A lot of the [thickeners] that people use now are a combination of different gums and gels. While these are good and still get the job done, they almost always give you a really gluey result and a masked taste or mouth feel, so you don’t really get clear flavours coming through. Also, you end up with a really sticky consistency, which can feel slimy based on how much thickener you use. With thickeners based on vegetable fibres and starches, the flavours are more distinct and discernible.”
What Do You Think Are The Major Risks When Texture Modifying Foods?
“With many people making texture modified foods at home, as well as in a lot of the smaller aged care hospitals, people tend to over prep everything because they don’t want to run the risk of someone choking. [They] just puree everything to a fine paste and it invariably ends up looking like slop. It’s not appetising, so people don’t really want to eat the food and you end up with malnourished residents. With IDDSI’s new testing methods, you don’t have to push to the extreme where everything is basically pureed.” “If you do need to make a pureed texture modified food, it’s important to understand how the food reacts when it’s processed and how additives can alter that structure. For people at home who don’t really have a deep technical knowledge of food, it can become quite tedious and prone to error – you could end up with a product that’s a lot thicker depending on how hard or how long you mix it. This is where the new IDDSI tests really come into their own to ensure the texture is right.”
Modifying food textures can be a daunting and difficult task, without the added pressure of food quality and safety. The new IDDSI standards specify testing metrics to check the level of modified foods and those guidelines can be found here. You can also find a collection of video lessons and fact sheets at SoupedUp Training.