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FT-Jun17 5 PURE FOOD CO It was a family health scare that inspired Pure Food co-founder Sam Bridgewater to think deeply about malnutrition in elderly people due to appetite loss or difficulty in swallowing. Whilst suffering from throat cancer, Bridgewater’s stepfather Mark struggled to eat, and the Auckland food technologist realised that texture modified easy-to-consume foods fortified to deliver greater nutritional quality than regular food could resolve the issue. “Malnutrition amongst our aging population is a big problem in aged-care facilities and outpatient, in-home care,” Bridgewater says. “Eight per cent of the global population find it hard to eat and may be receiving substantially inadequate nutrition as a result. They’re at high risk of developing malnutrition and dehydration, as well as subject to the immediate dangers of choking and aspiration.” As much as 90% of aged-care residents can be malnourished, or at significant risk of the condition, Bridgewater says, but the problem isn’t always that nutritionally balanced meals aren’t available to the elderly. “Clinicians, staff and family members caring for elderly people face a daily challenge to ensure they are maintaining patient weight when on softened, pureed and texture-modified diets,” he says. “It’s a crucial issue we’re trying to tackle with our products.” In a recent study carried out by the company, a number of aged-care patients were introduced to Pure Food meals. Before the change in diet, around 38% were able to maintain weight. After the introduction of the nutritionally fortified, texture-modified diet, 77% regained weight within weeks, and were able to maintain it for longer than four months. With more than 60 meal options - including the likes of roast chicken, braised beef, creamy broccoli and glazed carrots – the products simply require heating and eating, making it easy for caregivers to serve nutritious and delicious food to patients. “Our meals, which are a combination of best of pure foods and clinical nutrition, are more delicious than supplements and more nutritious than regular food,” Bridgewater says. The company currently serves 25,000 special diet meals each month to people most at risk living in aged-care homes, hospitals and at home. It supplies products to nearly half of New Zealand hospitals and three of the largest care providers, and has just recently made them available to purchase online or through pharmacies. “We hope to empower our consumers with independence,” Bridgewater says. “We want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to eat well and thrive.” The Pure Food Co was founded in 2014 by Bridgewater and Maia Royale, and has big plans to become a global leader in healthcare nutrition, providing the best combination of pure foods and clinical nutrition. Its rapid success over the past three years has won it several industry awards: 2015 New Zealand Food Awards winner (health and wellness category); 2015 New Zealand Innovation Awards finalist; and 2016 ‘Rising Star’ by the Deloitte Fast 50.

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