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Concept Development of a Meat Pie for Dysphagia Sufferers (TCF)

Did you know MLA has developed a meat pie for people with eating difficulties?

Project start date: 25 May 2019
Project end date: 30 October 2020
Publication date: 11 June 2020
Project status: In progress
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb, Grassfed cattle
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (2.2 MB)


People who have difficulty chewing and swallowing food (dysphagia) have limited red meat meal options. Dysphagia affects between 24–64% of Australia's elderly population and high proportion (50–70%) of sufferers live in residential aged care facilities.

This project explored the creation and commercialisation of a pureed meat pie to satisfy the correct consistency, taste, low-allergen and nutritional profile of a normal meat pie. The prototypes were tested on dysphagia sufferers living in aged care facilities.

A consumer-friendly meat pie that is easy to consume, as well as nutrient-dense, gluten-free and dairy-free, was successfully produced during this project. However, further work is required to automate the manufacturing process so it is less labour-intensive and suitable for reheating in non-commercial kitchens.


The overarching aim of this project was to develop and test a concept meat pie that looks and tastes like the real thing and is appealing to people who suffer from dysphagia.

Key findings

  • The meat pie created during this project was nutritionally dense (35.4g protein) and low-allergen (gluten-free and dairy-free).
  • The puree meat pie can deliver the required amount of red meat to consumers who have a small appetite, as per the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
  • The taste of the prototype pie was acceptable to consumers during testing.
  • The meat pie was well-received by medical experts who care for dysphagia patients in aged care facilities. The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative rated the meat pie as having an easy-to-chew texture.
  • Unfortunately, mass production proved to be difficult due to the labour-intensive method and because it was difficult to re-heat the pie in non-commercial kitchens.

Benefits to industry

Consumers are demanding more variety and the new Quality Standards for Aged Care focuses on consumer choice, variety and quality of meals. The soft, bite-size texture of this meat pie increases the opportunity to grow red meat consumption in a niche market (aged care facilities).

The pies could be sold at $9 (for beef) and $9.50 (lamb) which creates an opportunity to value-add red meat.

MLA action

While this project delivered valuable insights into the challenges of providing higher protein meal solutions for the aged care sector, more work is required. MLA continues to seek innovations not just for aged care but high value red meat opportunities for demographics such as the 'baby boomers'.

Future research

  • The product cannot be fully commercialised without further work and funding to automate or semi-automate the manufacturing process.
  • Further research is required to better heat the pie. This may require the recipe to be adjusted with input from food technologists to refine the ingredients so pies can be heated in a regular oven or microwave.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: Textured Concept Foods Pty Ltd