“No Dysphagia Diet Modification without Standardization!”

By: Karen Sheffler

September 28, 2015

Support Dysphagia Diet Standardization

by Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of SwallowStudy.com

IDDSI revised the framework March 2019 to include the Easy To Chew Level 7


On social media, in lectures and in blogs, I have been repeating: A global consensus on dysphagia diets, based on evidence, is coming soon. The International Dysphagia Diet Standarisation Initiative (www.IDDSI.org) now asking us to “spread the word.”

I think it is very appropriate that I write this blog in Boston, inspired by Boston’s revolutionary past. About 265 to 255 years ago (1750-1760’s) in Boston, people started rallying around the concept of “No taxation without representation.” This current dysphagia diet standardization initiative may take a revolution. Fortunately, it is a beautiful effort of countries collaborating rather than fighting.

Picture shows people around a globe working together for the common purpose of standardizing diets for patient safety. The field of dysphagia is pushing for a much needed global perspective. (This global push is also evident in the work of the Dysphagia Research Society, who had 20 countries represented at the 2015 annual meeting!)

In order to completely change the way we provide dysphagia diets and to make sure our institutions are adopting this standardization, we may need to think: “No diet modification without standardization!” It is a crucial patient safety issue that we all need to rally behind. For further background on the importance of this issue, please see my previous blog (“Diet Safety: Terminology & Definitions Matter”).

We can thank the following current-day global revolutionaries from the International Dysphagia Diet Standarisation Initiative (www.IDDSI.org):

Co-Chairs: Peter Lam (Dietitian, Canada) & Julie Cichero (SLP, Australia);

Committee Members: Jianshe Chen (Food Scientist, China), Roberto Dantas (Physician, Brazil), Janice Duivestein (Occupational Therapist, Canada), Ben Hanson (Engineer with significant research on thickened liquids, UK), Jun Kayashita (Dietitian, Japan), Caroline Lecko (Nurse, UK), Joe Murray (SLP, USA), Mershen Pillay (SLP, South Africa), Soenke Stanschus (SLT, aka, SLP, Germany), Catriona Steele (SLP, Canada).

It is time to review their work, trust in their expertise, and allow them to guide our field to a new era in standardization. Go to www.IDDSI.org and follow them on Twitter: @IDDSI_org and #IDDSI. Sign-up on IDDSI’s mailing list to get the latest updates.

Helpful Links From IDDSI:

    1. Click Here for the Framework Labels in color-coded charts in 16 languages. You can see how IDDSI had to select labels that are easily translatable and free from cultural bias. No more “Nectar” and “Honey,” which are NOT widely used outside of America. Click here for more information on IDDSI’s Translation efforts.
    2. Click Here for Descriptors & Testing Methods for Drink Thickness in the IDDSI Framework. This includes references and research rationale behind the labels of Thin, Slightly Thick, Mildly Thick, Moderately Thick Liquidised, and Extremely Thick Pureed. 
    3. Click here for the same document that contains Descriptors & Testing Methods for Food Texture Levels

Thank you in advance for spreading the word on this revolution. It will take a global village.

Again, for further background on the importance of standardized dysphagia diets: please see my previous blog (“Diet Safety: Terminology & Definitions Matter”).