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Storage, preparation, and usage of fortified food aid

Summary of published research1

Nsima, a staple porridge, here made from fortified cornmeal, common in Malawi

Important considerations in determining whether fortified food aid commodities meet the nutritional needs of beneficiaries are how commodities are utilised and prepared and the degree to which micronutrient losses occur during handling and cooking by the beneficiaries. A field study was recently conducted in Uganda, Malawi and Guatemala to obtain data on storage, preparation and usage of fortified blended food provided by USAID. The study involved interviews and observational data collection on the use of corn soy blend, cornmeal, soyfortified cornmeal, soy-fortified bulgur, and fortified vegetable oil from over 100 households and two 'wet' feeding sites (where food is prepared and served by staff onsite).

Main findings of the study were that storage practices by beneficiaries appeared to be appropriate, and all commodities observed were free from off-flavours and odours. Cooking water was typically obtained from boreholes or open wells with a pH range of 4.7-7.7. Food preparation usually took place in covered areas with the use of an aluminium or clay pot over a wood-fuelled fire. Thin or thick porridges were the most common dishes prepared from cereal-based products, with concentration ranges of 10%- 31% (weight for weight) in water. Cooking times for porridges ranged from 5-53 minutes, with a mean of 26 minutes. Tortillas and beverages were other preparations commonly observed in Guatemala. Vegetable oil was typically used for pan frying.

The authors of the study concluded that cooking fuel could be saved and nutritional quality probably improved if relief agencies emphasised shorter cooking times. Recommended cooking times for these products are 5-10 minutes. If cooked for longer, nutrients may be lost. The authors suggest that these data can be used to simulate preparation methods in the laboratory for assessment of the nutritional impact of cooking.

Show footnotes

1Rowe. J et al (2008). Storage, preparation, and usage of fortified food aid among Guatemalan, Ugandan, and Malawian beneficiaries: A field study report. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol 29, no 3, 2008

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Storage, preparation, and usage of fortified food aid. Field Exchange 36, July 2009. p8. www.ennonline.net/fex/36/storage