Personalized Foods With a Twist

We talk a lot about Millennials’ need for special foods, foods designed just for them, just for each individual with customized tastes, colors, packaging and nutrients. But there's another side to customization, and it’s at the opposite end of the age spectrum. And for many it could mean the difference between life and death. 

NPR reports that according to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan has the world's highest number of people age 65 and older; and a growing number of elderly people there are dying in accidental choking deaths. 

The two leading causes? Mochi — the sticky rice cake that has actually been a growing trend here in the U.S. — and apples.   

Japan's food industry has come to the rescue. A new category has been created: "engay" foods, specialized for elderly people. 

These are pureed, reshaped products that include just about any food. Here’s how it's described: After pureeing an original food product — for example, grilled salmon — the puree is combined with a gelling agent. Then it's molded into the original appearance of the food — in the case of salmon, with fake grill marks and everything. Think about baby foods that are then shaped and formed to look more appetizing. 

Today, these products are just available in hospitals and nursing homes, but with one of the world’s fast-aging population, it's considered the food of Japan's future. And it might possibly wind up on our U.S. supermarket shelves.

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