Upcoming thesis defense about food for elderly!

Mathieu Mingioni will defend his PhD in Angers (ESA) November 24, 2016. His research work entitled “Food for elderly –  Sensory study of fortified fruits and vegetables” was conducted in the context of OPTIFEL project.

In a context of aging population and rising prevalence of malnutrition, the aim of this PhD thesis was to understand how to develop innovative food products that are nutritionally and sensorially adapted to elderly people’s diet using sensory tools.
A comparative multidisciplinary survey was performed in 5 European countries. We highlighted three main patterns of food habits and preferences in elderly people with culinary dependency (n=405). Despite those differences, we deliver a list of consensual fruit and vegetables (in the studied countries).
With 130 elderly people aged over 65 years old, we confirm the variability of sensory performances. We report original findings about gustatory discrimination abilities in which very few is known. Gustatory discrimination ability seems to remain stable before 80 years old but may decrease after. No link was found between sensory perceptions and appreciation for different apple purees. In a context of innovation, our results precise specifications by providing recommendations about possible ranges for sugar and acid concentrations to be used in apple purées.
Finally, using a sensory expert panel and 344 elderly people, we show that smoothies were not affected by the addition of vitamins. However, a protein supplementation (pea and wheat) significantly decreases sensory characteristics and hedonic evaluation of carrot purées.
Our results highlight the importance of sensory tools in a product development approach. It is important to include them all along the process of innovation.

Good luck Mathieu!