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What could go wrong? Non-standardized versus standardized food texture classification

Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2022 Nov;57(6):1244-1254. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12749. Epub 2022 Jun 15.


BACKGROUND: Texture-modified foods (TMF) is a common intervention for improving swallowing safety and efficiency for people with dysphagia. Non-standardized texture classification (NSTC) of foods is used worldwide. However, as this study documents, it can introduce a lack of clarity and confusion over definitions that can potentially harm patients’ safety. The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) framework offers international terminology and standardized methods for texture testing that can address this issue AIMS: To document differences between NSTC and standardized texture classification (STC) of the IDDSI, to document changes in the STC in the 30 min following meal delivery, and to explore the relationship between food intake and texture level.

METHODS & PROCEDURES: In this observational study, data were collected from 24 long-term care departments during five meals served to 624 residents, including at least one breakfast, lunch and dinner. To document differences between NSTC and STC, all NSTC food textures used in the LTC facilities were reclassified to match the IDDSI texture level at the time food left the kitchen (n = 1276). To document time-related changes in texture, the STC texture as food left the kitchen was compared with texture 30 min later (n = 1276). Finally, to explore the relationship between texture and consumption, estimates were made of single-item food consumption (n = 3820) using a subjective evaluation of consumption percentage OUTCOMES & RESULTS: A total of 1276 food items were classified over the course of five meal services (with at least one each from breakfast, lunch and dinner). Statistically significant differences in NSTC and STC texture levels were found that revealed that residents were consuming food that was more difficult to eat than intended by the TMF prescription. In addition, significant changes in food texture were found over time, with texture levels significantly increasing 30 min after food left the kitchen. Finally, greater consumption was found for softer textures in comparison with regular foods; moreover, food consumption was greatest during breakfast and lowest during lunch.

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: Residents requiring TMF received harder textures than intended which required complex swallowing ability, thus introducing a choking risk. Using the STC as proposed by the IDDSI could improve patient safety, oral intake and nutritional status. Time-related changes should also be considered in circumstances where patients do not consume food soon after service. Lastly, reduced food consumption during lunch might negatively impact overall nutrient intake, particularly in cultures where lunch is the main meal of the day.

WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: What is already known on the subject Despite widespread agreement on the importance of STC, institutional care providers widely use NSTC. The IDDSI framework offers international terminology and standardized methods for texture testing. The clinical importance of using STC is not well understood. What this paper adds to existing knowledge This study found that residents who required texture-modified foods were eating food textures that were more challenging to swallow than intended. Differences were found in food texture between when it left the kitchen compared with texture 30 min later. Pureed texture had greater consumption than regular textured food. Food consumption was found to be the highest during breakfast, and reduced during lunch, which might negatively impact overall nutrient intake. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work? Accurate food texture prescription is the first step towards increasing patients’ safety. However, food preparation and handling are also very important steps, not to be disregarded. Time-related changes in food texture are remarkable and should be considered in circumstances where patients do not consume food soon after service, as these can compromise patients’ safety.

PMID:36398686 | DOI:10.1111/1460-6984.12749

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