Hormel Food, Austin, Minn., is launching a new medical foods line, Hormel Vital Cuisine, which includes ready to eat meals, nutrition shakes and whey protein powders specially designed to serve the needs of cancer patients. The company partnered with the Cancer Nutrition Consortium to develop the line, which it says are the first products certified by the CNC organization.
Working closely with professional chefs, including those from the Culinary Institute of America, Hormel says Vital Cuisine provides flavor and great taste as well as functionality, as product developers also ensure the essential nutrients and protein to help patients combat the loss of energy and muscle mass they endure during cancer treatments.
A portion of the proceeds from the line will go to fund CNC's research and outreach initiatives. The CNC comprises nutritionists, dieticians, oncologists, and physicians from leading cancer research institutions. The RTE meals include three high-protein varieties—chicken and dumpling, vegetarian stew, and beef and mushroom gravy. Because of the company's efforts to eliminate unnecessary ingredients known to affect consumers' taste and smell sensitivities, plus they're convenient, always a welcome benefit, says the company.
"During product development, we brought together researchers in both the health and culinary fields to ensure a thorough understanding of a patient's needs during various phases of treatment," says Chet S. Rao, Ph.D., strategy and business manager for the specialty foods group at Hormel Foods. "The line was thoughtfully crafted, since many product attributes such as flavor, texture, and ingredients are known to affect patients differently during their cancer journey, during which eating and drinking can be challenging."
"Most cancer patients are too tired to make a meal, or even shop for it. Yet the importance of good, consistent nutrition can't be overstated," says Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, physician and chairman of the CNC. "We saw an opportunity to address these issues. So in 2014, we embarked on this endeavor with Hormel Health Labs (HHL) to improve cancer patients' quality of life."
Hormel isn't alone is its medical food developments, as Nestle is also researching the medical foods market, and set aside $500 million through 2021 to evaluate and investigate the segment. Recently, the company installed a lab with machines that can analyze human DNA to create customized treatment regimens for various diseases.