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IDDSI: An Overview for Healthcare Professionals

The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) is a global effort to develop and promote standardized terminology for texture modified foods and thickened liquids for people with dysphagia – across all ages, in all care settings, and in all cultures.

For years, patients, caregivers, healthcare and foodservice professionals have used various terms to describe the dysphagia diet. Recognizing a need for standardization, a group of volunteers from various professions came together in 2013 and formed the IDDSI. Their collaboration and research resulted in the International Dysphagia Diet Framework (see the framework image below), which includes food and drink descriptors, colors, and numbers along with instructions for easy, reliable, and accessible methods to test different foods and drinks. Several countries are in the process of implementing IDDSI, with the U.S. officially adopting the new standards in May.

In the past, the National Dysphagia Diet (NDD) was the only standardized diet tool in the United States. It was published in 2002 by the American Dietetic Association (now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). A consensus among dietitians, speech-language pathologists, and food scientists, the NDD listed diets that were appropriate for patients with swallowing disorders. While it was a great beginning, the IDDSI will further enhance the care professionals are able to provide to dysphagia patients, thus improving their quality of life.

As a brand, we’re committed to using research, innovation, and education to find reliable dysphagia nutrition solutions. We know that in order to find the best solutions, we must work collaboratively with experts in healthcare, food science, and technology and patient safety, and we’re proud to support IDDSI as a gold sponsor.

Thick-It® brand is a gold sponsor of IDDSI.

We’re also proud to release updated, IDDSI-compliant packaging for Thick-It® Clear Advantage® ready-to-drink juices later this month and updated packaging for our purées and food and beverage thickeners in the coming months, complementing the updated Thick-It® Clear Advantage® Thickened Tea packaging that has been on the market since fall 2018. Our new ready-to-drink packaging will include the IDDSI standards while maintaining the previous honey and nectar descriptors to eliminate confusion. Each ready-to-drink juice contains 100% of the suggested daily value of Vitamin C. While the labels are changing, the UPCs and manufacturing codes as well as the ordering process will remain the same.

Ultimately, IDDSI will help improve the lives of people living with dysphagia as well as those caring for them. The Thick-It® team shares that commitment and has created a comprehensive staff training guide to assist healthcare professionals and facilities through this transitional period. It explains what healthcare professionals need to know about IDDSI, including the food and drinks classification and testing, flow test instructions, and more. Download it here.

Are you looking for further explanation and training for your staff? We understand IDDSI represents a milestone shift in our industry and are available for on-site staff training. Contact us today to get that scheduled.

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