New Dysphagia Standards Commence

New Dysphagia standards commenced this month | Photo Credit: Canva

Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) affects up to 8% of the general population, 40-50% of residents in residential aged care facilities, 60% of children with developmental disability and 84% of people living with dementia.

The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) has been developed to become the global standard for the treatment of dysphagia and includes more accurate methods to test the thickness of prepared foods. The new standards have been developed to reduce confusion and reduce the risk of preventable illness and death in the treatment for those care recipients who have dysphagia.

From 1 May 2019 Australia changed from using the Australian National Standards for texture modified food and thick drinks to the IDDSI Framework. Three notable changes include:

  • Food and drinks are on a single continuum of 1-7, replacing the existing Australian National Standards of levels 150, 400 and 900 for drink and A, B and C for food texture.
  • Colour coding has changed (for example mildly thick drinks are now colour coded pink as opposed to green labelling in the Australian national standards, with green colour coding changing to extremely thick drinks).
  • Bread and sandwiches are not included in the IDDSI level 6 soft and bite sized category due to the high risk of choking.
IDDSI number and colour labelling system

The IDDSI standards were adopted in New Zealand in 2018. In addition to Australia’s adoption in May, the UK adopted the standards in April 2019. Canada and the USA have also adopt the IDDSI standards in 2019. In total, 57 countries have been involved in the consultation process with many at different stages of the planning and implementation process.

So why the change? The two primary reasons for the development and adoption of the IDSSI is to:

  1. Improve safety.
  2. Improve treatment outcomes.

The world is increasingly a global village. With the increased movement of both patients and health professionals around the globe it has become increasingly important to have a global, standardised framework and universal terminology for health professionals to utilise.

Detailed definitions and descriptors of the IDDSI Framework can be found on the IDDSI Framework website at:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here