Doctors Without Borders nutritionist Dr. Milton Tectonidis, “Now we have something. It is like an essential medicine. In three weeks, we can cure a kid that … looked like they’re half dead. We can cure them just like an antibiotic.” When asked if Plumpy’nut was like penicillin, the doctor replies, “For these kids, yes.”
I just saw the story on 60 minutes on Plumpy’nut being distributed by Doctors Without Borders in Maradi, Niger. The little faces of starving African children was horrible…as it always is. I’m happy to see this wasn’t just another plea for aid, but a story about viable, inexpensive solutions to hunger. I was also happy to see that this product brings jobs and industry to the poorest of the poor.
Oh and let me say this before the comments come: For those of you who will say that the sugar content of the product is to high, I have to agree to an extent. For those who would say that there could be a more wholesome product that is better for the health of these children that could be produced, I say, “I’m sure there may be”. However, if Plumpy’nut will make a difference between life or death for a starving child, even if it only means a few more years of life, I’m happy about it’s being made available in Africa. I’m not going to criticize the efforts, especially if I don’t have any solutions that I can currently impliment and save lives.
Plumpy’nut is a peanut-based food for use in famine relief which was formulated by André Briend, a French scientist in 1999.
It is a high protein and high energy peanut-based paste in a foil wrapper that can be distributed to children at home rather than in specialist feeding stations and can be eaten without any preparation. It tastes like a slightly sweeter kind of peanut butter.
The problem of malnutrition has often been addressed by nutritious powdered milk. These have to be prepared in hygienic conditions with clean water and once prepared must be chilled to prevent spoilage. This entails their being distributed in medically staffed feeding stations. Plumpy’nut costs about the same as the milk powders but is easier to transport in bulk and takes up less space. In areas where there is no clean water and no refrigeration this is a Godsend.
The great innovation of the Plumpy’nut bar is that it requires no preparation or special supervision and greatly reduces the amount of money needed to be spent on feeding stations. It is very difficult to over eat and keeps even after opening. It has a 2 year shelf life when unopened. An untrained adult such as a parent can deliver it to a malnourished child at home.
The ingredients are: peanut paste, vegetable oil, milk powder, vitamins and minerals, combined in a foil pouch. Each pack provides 500 kilocalories. (wikipedia)