Unique food products give malnourished children something to be thankful for

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2012 - While millions of people in the developed world plan to enjoy traditional Thanksgiving fixings like turkey, ham, dressing and pies, nearly 20 millions severely malnourished children under the age of five will be looking for simple foods that can help them survive.

 

One of the most innovative food products available is Plumpy'nut®, a ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF) that combines a peanut-based paste with sugar, vegetable fat and skimmed milk powder that is enriched with vitamins and minerals. Each Plumpy'nut foil packet provides 500 calories, requires no cooking and can be used for up to 24 months after the manufacture date.

This therapeutic food, developed by Nutriset, is now widely used in the developing world, including sub-Saharan Africa, as a treatment for emergency malnutrition, according to Nutriset COO Adeline Lescanne. Plumpy'nut products were used to treat more than 3.2 million children in in 2011, according to the firm, which is based in Normandy, France.

According to the World Food Programme, investing in good nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child's life - from conception to two years of age - is critical to put children on the path to life-long growth, development and productivity. WFP's nutrition programmes prioritize this critical period, referred to as the “window of opportunity,” by focusing nutrition programmes on young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers because they are the most vulnerable from a nutritional point of view. 
 
Nutriset COO Adeline Lescanne

 

The development of Plumpy'nut® and other innovative RUTF foods permits treatment to take place in a local community at any time and any place, shifting care away from costly intensive-care inpatient facilities that required children and their caregivers to remain in residence during their month-long treatment.

“Such programmes, known as Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition, offer severely malnourished children the opportunity to be treated at home, rather than in a centre, with family and community support for recovery,” noted Action Against Hunger on their website.

Nutriset is certainly not the only company or organization focused on providing innovative food products to those suffering from malnutrition. For example, The World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) has long worked on using soy products to improving the nutrition of hungry people around the globe. Companies like California's Challenge Dairy Exchange work with UNICEF to provide the first U.S. produced dairy-based RUTF. 

But based on some of their early success with Plumpy'nut®, Nutriset announced last fall that it will contribute an additional $5.8 million over the next two years to fight severe acute malnutrition in the developing world. The funds will go the PlumpyField® network, a network of locally-based private manufacturers in developing countries that act as franchisees to produce and distribute Plumpy'nut® and other Nutriset products.

“Nutriset's pledge to significantly increase our investment in our PlumpyField members will help to create local solutions to devastating food crises,” said Nutriset CEO Adeline Lescanne. “We hope the $5.8 million will provide our partners with the tools they need to combat current famines and help promote the nutritional autonomy of all afflicted regions of the world.”

Currently, the PlumpyField® Network consists of 13 members of which seven are local companies operating in parts of Africa.

Lescanne says that Nutriset is providing a model for how corporations can support sustainable production systems in developing countries - one of the goals outlined in President Barack Obama's Feed the Future Initiative.

 

 

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