Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur developed ready-to-eat food paste for malnourished children on 16 February 2014.
A four-member team led by Professor Dr H N Mishra of IIT Kharagpur prepared the formulation in their food chemistry and technology lab. This formulation could be used as part of medical nutrition therapy for management of severe acute malnutrition children.
The researchers prepared five food formulations based on peanut, potato and Bengal gram (chana) to suit different tastes and nutrient needs of malnourished children. It is also easily digestible. It has all the vitamins, minerals, nutrients and protein which a malnourished child needs.
Since the product targeted the underprivileged section of the society, the cost of production was low and could be sold by the industry profitably at 50 – 60 Rupees a kilogram.
Department of Bitechnology under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology had sanctioned 1.8 crore rupees in funds for this project of IIT Kharagpur.
IIT Kharagpur has tied up with Delhi-based Gattapu Chemicals as industry partner which would have the rights to sell the formulation.
The team has also made the machines needed to develop the food. It was hoped that the food would be available in the market by next year.
Malnourishment in India
According to UNICEF estimates, one in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.
Malnutrition in early childhood has serious, long-term consequences because it puts them at greater risk of disease and early death.
The World Health Organisation has issued guidelines stating that ready-to-use therapeutic foods could be used to manage severe acute malnutrition in community settings.
With an estimated 8.1 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the country, it was regarded as an important cause of morbidity and mortality in children below five years of age in India.