Dairy ingredients could be the key to effective, affordable foods for moderately malnourished children, according to studies presented by international food aid specialists at the first Arla Foods Ingredients food aid seminar.
But further research is necessary to determine the precise nutritional impact of dairy ingredients in convenient food aid products. To ensure their affordability, research also needs to identify the minimum dairy dose capable of improving the health status of children in hunger-hit regions.
Globally, nutrient deficiency is the cause of stunted growth and development in 165 million children.
Interdisciplinary knowledge exchange
Some of the world’s leading food aid specialists from academia, business and NGOs attended the seminar in Denmark, where the latest knowledge was exchanged about formulating food aid products that satisfy new nutrition guidelines published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2012.
Speakers included Dr Mark Manary, professor of paediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine and founder of Project Peanut Butter, which helps hundreds of thousands of malnourished children in Africa.
Dr Manary welcomed the seminar as an important industry-driven initiative. He said: “Through this seminar, Arla Foods Ingredients gives people like me a chance to interact with people who know a lot about food. We have important knowledge to share with each other.”
Promising studies with whey
Food aid is a relatively new focus area for Arla Foods Ingredients. Particularly, studies led by Dr Manary and Dr Kim Michaelsen from Copenhagen University have drawn the company’s attention through their investigation of two Arla Foods Ingredients products: whey permeate and whey protein concentrate.
Preliminary findings from a Project Peanut Butter clinical study underway in Malawi, for example, indicate that ready-to-eat supplementary foods made with whey permeate and whey protein concentrate speed up recovery from moderate malnutrition in children aged 6 to 59 months.
Henrik Andersen, Arla Foods Ingredients CEO, said: “This work has raised our awareness of how we can contribute to the development of next-generation supplementary foods designed to overcome childhood malnutrition.”
Speakers at the seminar represented Project Peanut Butter, Copenhagen University, the US Dairy Export Council, Swiss humanitarian think tank Sight & Life, and Arla Foods. Their presentations are available to view at arlafoodsingredients.com.
Arla Foods Ingredients plans to make the seminar a regularly returning event. For more details, contact [email protected]