Restructure Therapeutic Food for Malnutrition Relief in India

T. Gu, L.C. Brutus, Y. Ren, A.A. Rigos, and T.A. Hatton
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
United States

Keywords: food materials, lipid-based, malnutrition


Lipid-based nutrient supplements are widely adopted for child malnutrition relief in resource-constrained communities. Ready-to-use therapeutic food, as one of the most successful formulas, has seen success in 25 African countries. We converted a similar formula from its current paste form into an instant powder form to cater to Indian dietary habit using the low-cost and readily scalable spray drying technology. We discovered that while the high fat content of such formula makes the pre-spray emulsion unstable, by concentrating this emulsion a high colloidal stability overcomes the phase separation issue and thus spray drying can be carried out without modern continuous homogenization facility. We also found that while maltodextrin is generally recognized as a good microencapsulation wall material, lower molecular weight carbohydrates reduce surface fat more significantly. A large-scale production simulation result shows that the spray drying process cost per meal is reduced to less than 1 Indian rupee ($0.015), making it a readily commercializable and highly competitive alternative to the current formula.