Project Lead(s): James Li
In the Philippines, a large percentage of the population suffers from one or more forms of malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies.
Among Filipino children, the four major deficiency disorders are protein-energy malnutrition, iodine deficiency disorder, vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency.
Despite its importance in the etiology of many disorders, iron deficiency anemia has not received the necessary attention in public health, due to its relatively subtle effects and the misperception that it should be addressed therapeutically rather than through preventive strategies.
This project took advantage of the cultural habit of Filipino children to snack many times a day, by developing and introducing rice bran snacks to deliver iron and needed nutrients.
The team distributed a limited number of snacks for taste testing in Canada and conducted sample testing with about 30 children in Illocos Norte, Philippines.
Working with the Food Centre in Saskatchewan Canada, as well as the Department of Chemistry and the Impact Centre at the University of Toronto, the team conducted nutrient analysis and quantification.
In partnership with Pueblo Science’s teacher training, the team delivered food science experiments to 756 teachers, to encourage health education and improve the local population's attitude and behaviour about nutrition.
In addition, they have engaged store owners, snack manufacturers, distributors, grain millers, researchers and government officials to obtain their feedback on the snack product, as well as the business model logistics and potential for financing.
The team has created iron-rich snacks that are enjoyed by children in the Philippines at an affordable cost. These snacks consist of three formulations—one dough-based, fried snack; and two puffed (extruded) snacks with protein flours for added nutrition.
The product shelf life was tested under Philippine conditions and the snacks were found to be stable for at least six months. The results of the nutrient analysis indicated that there is 1mg iron per 30g of bran snack – close to 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) per typical serving size.
The product was well received by the tasters and a small-scale production is currently being set up in Vintar, Ilocos Norte, in partnership with GRS Rice Mills and Farm Supply (GRS), to produce the fried snack formulation.
The team intends to apply for Transition To Scale (Phase II) funding to market the product to more provinces and scale up manufacturing accordingly.
The team also intends to conduct a clinical trial to measure health benefits of the snacks in children.
They are working with the Philippine Food Nutrition Research Institute to produce a large batch of bran snacks for further taste testing, and will approach store owners, distributors and retailers in order to distribute the product at large scale.