KEY INTERVIEW: Kent Precision Foods – Thick-It AquaCare Range and CHAMPS Collaboration

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08 Mar 2016 --- Kent Precision Foods Group (KPFG) has joined forces with CHAMPS Group Purchasing to supply fortified and modified drinks for the US health care industry. Doug Stetzer and Megan Watts of KPFG described to NutritionInsight how their patented Thick-It AquaCare H20 beverage range aids people with swallowing problems.

Doug Stetzer, KPFG Chief Scientist, is renowned for developing the first clear, ready-to-drink thickening product in the market for patients with swallowing difficulties, also known as dysphagia:

“After years of research on thickening agents, I developed Thick-It AquaCare pre-thickened beverages to close the gap between the needs and desires of the dysphagia patient and the available products on the market.”
 
“These products, based on proprietary xanthan processing, are the most stable pre-thickened beverages available. The process ensures that water remains clear and that texture remains smooth — both qualities that are much more appealing to dysphagia patients, especially in contrast to the grainy texture and cloudy appearance of water thickened with starch.”
 
“For years, starch has been the primary agent used for thickening beverages for patients with dysphagia. It has played an important role in helping modify liquids for those with swallowing disorders because it is cheap and readily available; however, new research is delivering innovative thickening agents with better characteristics.”
 
“While starch can take hours to fully hydrate, xanthan gum hydrates more quickly and in small amounts. It remains stable over a wide range of temperatures, pH levels and conditions—and can be heated, frozen and thawed with no change in viscosity.”
 
“Xanthan is also amylase resistant, meaning the enzyme found in saliva has no effect on the xanthan molecule. Xanthan’s stability and resistance to amylase offer a significant safety feature — lowering the risk of aspiration (food or liquid entering the airway), the largest concern of most who struggle with dysphagia.”
 
The importance of thickeners for those with dysphagia
“18 million Americans suffer from the swallowing disorder dysphagia. With the undesirable consistency and taste of many thickened liquids, getting dysphagia patients to comply with their recommended modified diets is an ongoing challenge, leading to malnutrition and dehydration.”
 
“In addition, dysphagia patients are at risk for aspiration, which can result in pneumonia—often requiring a hospital visit or causing chronic lung disease. 

To ensure the health and well-being of those with dysphagia, it is crucial to safely offer palatable thickened beverage options that encourage robust consumption and hydration.”
 
“Due to xanthan’s stability and resistance to amylase in saliva, thickeners made with xanthan gum reduce the risk of aspiration. Further, according to a study by University of California, Davis, survival rate is significantly decreased when a starch-thickened beverage is aspirated versus a xanthan-thickened beverage.”
 
“Also, because xanthan-thickened beverages maintain viscosity over time, and are clear and smooth when mixed, they are appealing to dysphagia patients and encourage them to consume more with the dignity that their meals look more ‘normal,’ more like what friends and family at the table are consuming.”
 
“The clear Thick-It AquaCare H2O water product can serve as a base to a variety of drinks and broth flavors, increasing personal taste preference —from hot tea to lemonade with ice (yes, the thickened water can even be frozen into ice cubes).”
 
“By improving the safety, palatability, appeal and versatility of thickened beverages for those with dysphagia, we give back their enjoyment of mealtime — their ability to have ‘their own cup of tea,’ and the confidence that simply drinking a glass of water won’t land them in the hospital.”
 
KPFG’s latest development in personal nutrition solutions has resulted in a worthy partnership with American healthcare supply-chain specialists CHAMPS. Megan Watts, KPFG Brand Marketing Manager for Personal Nutrition Solutions, explained further about the importance of this collaboration: “In February 2016, CHAMPS Group Purchasing launched a three-year custom contract with Kent Precision Foods Group’s Thick-It line, making the contract available to CHAMPS’ 7,000+ members across the US.”
 
“Thick-It products have been proven to enhance nutrition and improve patient outcomes, making our relationship with health care providers and food service managers who serve aging populations as important as ever.”
 
“Our partnership with CHAMPS helps us honor our commitment to deliver innovation where it matters most — the health care setting.”
 
by Kerina Tull

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