For someone experiencing swallowing difficulties, it is of utmost importance to ensure that food is of the right texture for them. We detail some of the food tests that can be used to test that food is the right texture for different levels of swallowing difficulty, in line with the new IDDSI guidelines.

What is IDDSI?

Within the UK, the NHS has updated its criteria for categorising different diet textures for people with swallowing difficulties. This means that what was formerly known as Category C, Category D and Category E texture categories are being replaced by new terminology and standards.

The new IDDSI (International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative) standards have been created by a collaboration of industry professionals to create a global standard for categorising texture-modified foods. This means that there will be less confusion about the terms used to classify a specific texture diet across different countries.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with dysphagia, they may have been referred onto a specific food texture diet by a healthcare professional. Following IDDSI guidelines this could include, amongst others, Level 4 (Puréed), Level 5 (Minced) and Level 6 (Soft & Bite-Sized). However the challenge is making sure that food meets the correct texture to ensure that it is safe for them to eat.  

To find out more about IDDSI and the updates to our Softer Foods range, see our IDDSI explanation page for more detail.

How to ensure a Level 4 Puréed food texture

To check that food is the right texture to meet the requirements of a Level 4 Puréed diet, there are 3 key tests that can be used to check that the consistency is correct, as detailed by our Dietitian, Helen Willis, in the video below.

Fork Pressure Test - Using the prongs of a fork, you need to be able to make clear indentations on the surface of the food.

Fork Drip Test - When scooped up with a fork, the food should sit in a mound and not flow or drip below the prongs of the fork.

Spoon Tilt Test - When scooped up with a spoon, the food should be cohesive enough to hold its shape. When you tilt the spoon, the full spoonful should fall off without leaving behind much residue, and it should hold its shape on the plate.

And this is how you can check that your food is compliant with Level 4.

How to ensure a Level 5 Minced food texture

To check that food is the right texture to meet the requirements of a Level 5 Minced diet, there are 3 key tests that can be used to check that the consistency is correct, as detailed by our Dietitian, Helen Willis, in the video below.

Fork Drip Test - When you scoop up the food with a fork, the food must sit in a pile or mound on the fork and does not easily or completely flow or fall through the prongs of the fork.

Spoon Tilt Test - When scooping up food with a spoon, the food should be cohesive enough to hold its shape. When you tilt the spoon, the full spoonful should slide off the spoon easily.

Fork Pressure Test - The small lumps must be no bigger than 4mm in size which is roughly the difference between the prongs of the fork. So when pressed with the fork, the food particles should easily be separated between and come through the prongs. You should also be able to easily mash the food down with a fork, without using any pressure in that mashing.

And this is how you can check that your food is compliant with Level 5.

How to ensure a Level 6 Soft & Bite-Sized food texture

To check that food is the right texture to meet the requirements of a Level 6 Soft & Bite-Sized diet, there are 2 key tests that can be used to check that the consistency is correct, as detailed by our Dietitian, Helen Willis, in the video below.

A Level 6 compliant food texture should include bite-sized pieces which must be no bigger than 1.5cm in size.

Spoon Pressure Test - You should be able to cut or break down the food into smaller pieces when you put pressure on the food with the edge of a spoon.

Fork Pressure Test - You should be able to cut or break down the food into smaller pieces when you put pressure on the food with the edge of a fork. When mashing, you should be able to push down on the food, with the pressure from your thumb to the point where your thumbnail blanches white - then when you stop mashing, the food must stay mashed and not return to its original shape. 

And this is how you can check that your food is compliant with Level 6.

This is just a brief overview of some of the different IDDSI testing methods. For a full explanation of IDDSI compliance and testing methods, please visit the IDDSI website.

Our Softer Foods range offers an easy way to ensure that you are eating meals that are the right texture for you. Click here to browse and discover our full Softer Foods range.

Softer Foods range update coming March 2019 (IDDSI)

Find out more