Intelligent monitoring of food waste and food intake with the DIMS
Undernutrition in hospital and among the elderly in nursing homes is a signiicant problem. Studies have shown that around 40% of patients hospitalised in Danmark are undernourished and that 1 out of five patients is at risk of undernutrition already at admission time. At the same time studies show that around 30% of the food is discarded. With the Dietary Intake Monitoring System (DIMS) technology, it is now possible to address the problem in a simple and labour-saving manner. The DIMS, developed in connection with the FoodsErvinSpire project, allows scientists to make automatic the registration and assessment of both the amount and type of food in hospitals (Ofei et al 2014). In one study focusing on finding patterns in food choices, portions size, food intake and plate waste, data was collected during 380 meals served at a buffet for 97 patients. Regarding food waste, a simple calculation shows that with a food waste of 40% – which is not abnormal – intelligent monitoring can be expected to reduce food waste by half, and thus will be able to save 200 million DKK in a year alone in the hospital sector in Denmark. Technologically speaking, the DIMS is composed of a digital camera, scales, an infrared thermometer and an RFID reader that can identify food on the plate – for example, what is meat, and what is sauce. The camera and the weight calculate the amount of food the patient's plate, and the resulting data is used to determine the quantity and types of food consumed and not consumed (= waste).