‘Spraying’ Health, Fortified Meals for the Elderly

Published: 12-11-2015, | Member: Fortified RTE BV

Two multinationals and a Dutch start-up have created a way to bring healthier and more attractive food to the table for the world’s aging population. By mixing Rousselot’s gelatin and collagen peptides with DSM’s minerals and vitamins and a bright idea from Fortified Food Coatings, they developed a gelatin based spray to fortify ready-to-eat meals.

Mounting scientifi­c evidence shows that fortifying foods with collagen peptides contributes to healthy bones and a more hydrated skin. Bones, tendons, cartilage, teeth and skin are mostly made up of collagen. Collagen consists of interlaced protein chains, known as polypeptides. As people age, their collagen production decreases, resulting in brittler bones and a wrinkly skin.

Key Building Block
In the early 2000s, Rousselot, a gelatin manufacturer and subsidiary of multinational Darling Ingredients, developed a full range of collagen peptides under the brand name Peptan. Peptan collagen peptide is a bioactive protein that can be used to fortify functional foods, beverages and nutritional bars to provide specific health benefits. “We have done a lot of research into the health effects of collagen peptides,” says Paul Stevens, Global Research and Applications Manager at Rousselot. “Peptan has become a key building block in a growing number of innovative products and concepts. It is easy to apply, does not affect a product’s flavor or odor and is water soluble. And it is a clean label ingredient too.”

In 2013, Fortified Food Coatings, a Dutch start-up, knocked on Rousselot’s door with an idea: fortifying ready meals for senior citizens and hospital patients with a gelatin containing peptides and other food supplements. “The idea was based on the eating habits of the elderly,” explains Flip Houtman, COO at Fortified Food Coatings. “Senior citizens tend to eat smaller portions and often do not put much thought into what they eat, even though it is particularly important for their age group to eat healthy and get enough proteins and minerals. Seniors often use meal delivery services. Our new product is a thin, fortified gelatin spray that can be used on ready-to-eat meals. This ensures that the microwaved meal is enriched with extra collagen peptides, vitamin D and calcium.”

Printing Gelatin
At Rousselot, they instantly liked the idea, according to Stevens. “Both companies started studying the feasibility of developing this concept. We worked with students from the HAS University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. They developed a formulation and included vitamins and minerals manufactured by DSM in the gelatin layer. The recipe has been tested amongst elderly people.” The results encouraged Fortified Food Coatings to develop the solution for coating the meals with a layer of gelatin. With the help of different experienced partners, they came up with a solution: a food robot that prints a thin coat of gelatin on the meal. When the meal is reheated in the microwave, the gelatin melts and the nutrients go into the meal. This guarantees the nutritional value of the complete dish. An added benefit of the coating is that it enhances the meal’s appearance, making the food look fresh rather than dried out.

Setting the Bar High
Rousselot and Fortified Food Coatings will launch their ‘Peptan fortifi­ed ready meal delivery concept’ at the Food Matters Live trade show in London, 17-19 November 2015. Fortifi­ed Food Coatings will start targeting senior citizens and hospitals. In the long run, they intend to apply the concept to recovery foods for athletes. The market is currently flooded with sport drinks, even though nutrients are absorbed much better when part of a meal.

The innovators are now in the process of selecting partners in the Benelux and UK who will get to work with their equipment. “We are being extremely selective,” says Houtman, “because the meal manufacturers are going to determine our success or failure. We are looking at the quality of the ingredients they work with. We also want to know whether they work clean label. And are they fully certified? Are they willing to invest in new products and new markets? These are important questions, because we want the meals for those specific target groups to meet a very high standard.”

Personalized Meals
“There is a wide interest in how food can improve health,” says Houtman. “People everywhere are looking at the options. We believe that Fortified Food Coatings is going to have an impact on this. In five years’ time, we expect to be able to have our food robots deliver personalized meals fortified with the nutrients every particular individual needs. This can be of great use to people who need something extra for health reasons.”

Fortified Food Coatings