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Plumpynut a great way to help child poverty

As millions around the world face starvation a French firm may have come up with the answer. They have created a peanut product called Plumpy'nut that could come to the aid of starving people, especially children, across the globe. .Made from peanuts, Plumpy'nut was first formulated by French scientists working for Nutriset, based near Rouen in northern France. It is a firm that specializes in making food supplements, especially for for relief work agencies. The ingredients that go into creating Plumpy'nut are peanuts, vegetable oil, milk powder, sugar, vitamins and minerals.

.The resulting paste is packed into aluminum pouches and each pack provides 500 calories of high energy food. Plumpy'Nut also contains the vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E and K, and several vital minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, iodine, sodium, and selenium.

.Plumpy'nut can, when given twice daily for about four weeks,  turn a malnourished child into a healthly one. It has several advantages that could make it the premier food resource for famine relief workers.

.1. It is easy to make.

As it is based on peanuts it can easily be produced in those parts of the world where peanuts can be grown - the ones most affected by famine, such as African countries. .2. It has a long shelf life. When packed in foil it has a shelf life of about two years.

Even when opened it can last several days before it goes off. .3. It is small and light, making it easy to distribute even in the difficult conditions that are often found remote areas of the world. .4.

It is packed full of goodness. Each small pack that can easily be held in the hand provides 500 Calories. Plumpy'nut also contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E and K, and several vital minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, iodine, sodium, and selenium. .5. It taste good, a little like sweet peanut butter, and is easy to digest - vital for feeding malnourished children with distended stomachs.

.6. It works quickly.

Plumpy'nut has been found to increase weight in as little as two days. The fortified food contains a balance of lipid, sugar, and protein with added vitamins and  minerals. It also contain mono-unsaturated fats, which are easy to digest. The high calorie content means children get an energy boost from even small amounts and the zinc and protein aids the immune system to protect against disease.

.Above all it is cheap. A 40 day treatment of two Plumpy'nut bars daily costs less than a dollar a day and can have dramatic results. The famine food has already won the backing of health workers and famine relief organisations. The World Health Organization (WHO) is backing schems to create factories in  peanut-producing areas, such Niger,.

 Médecins Sans Frontières has been handing our packets across Niger in Africa and trials are being carried out in Malawi where a local factory has been manufacturing it. .Many children in poverty stricken regions die because they can 't get the milk, the vitamins and minerals they need. Starving mothers may have too little milk to feed their children and they can't afford to buy it. Even if they could get the milk it is impossible to store in villages without electricity or refrigeration.

Powdered milk is ineffective when villages don't have clean water to mix it - the danger is that they will spread disease. .Nutriset, has been selling food products to combat malnutrition since 1986.

Plumpy'nut is a patented food supplement and orders from major relief agencies like Unicef have helped Nutriset's sales triple in as many years. But the company is not cashing on on its success in the market. It reinvests about 80 percent of its profits into developing new products, and is helping firms in the Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Niger to produce Plumpy'nut locally.

More info: plumpynut

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