Milk powder in emergencies
Shelf life of dried whole milk Francesco Branca 03.09.97
Whole milk powder Marion Herens 11.09.97
Use of milk powders in emergencies Helen Young 15.09.97

Date:Wed, 3 Sep 1997 14:05:54 +0200 (ITADST)

From: Francesco Branca <>

Subject: Shelf life of dried whole milk


Dear colleagues,

I have a request for information from ngos distributing dried whole milk as part of the aid package to Cuba. For administrative and logistic reasons, donated items are only distributed once every six months. This poses a problem with items that have a limited shelf life, such as dried milk. Most manifacturers provide a product that has a six-month shelf life, thus compelling the beneficiaries to use the product in a very limited time, sometimes one-two months. Some manifacturers claim they can provide a product with 8 to 12 month shelf life, by reducing the humidity content, and presumably by changing the container. This, however, brings up the cost of the product noticeably. Can anybody help on he following:

1. what can be done to prolong shelf life without a major impact on cost;

2. names of manufacturers that are able to produce dried whole milk with a shelf life greater than 6 months.

Thank you.


Francesco Branca

Istituto Nazionale della Nutrizione

Via Ardeatina, 546, 00179 ROMA, ITALY

Ph. +396 5032412 FAX +396 5031592

Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 09:24:00 +0002

From: "Herens, Marion (ESNP)" <>

Subject: Whole milk powder


Dear all,

Recently we received the following request from Jordan:

"Kindly send us all data relating to age of children and importance of feeding children with whole full cream milk powder, also starting age of children that can be fed on reconstituted whole milk powder.

Kindly let us know if there is any publication on this issue and how to obtain them".

I am wondering whether any of you has up to date information regarding this issue and is willing to send this to me, so I can inform the people in Jordan accordingly.

Thanks in advance.

Kind regards,


Marion Herens

Nutrition Programmes Services, Food and Nutrition Division, FAO

e-mail:, Tel: 00 39 6 5705 3458

From: Helen Young <>

Subject: Use of milk powders in emergencies

Date: Mon, 15 Sep 97 12:51:00 G


Dear All,

I had thought that this issue had been satisfactorily resolved. Even before 1990 the Red Cross and UNHCR made it clear that milk powder was not to be distributed on its own as part of a general ration in their various policy statements. This has subsequently been endorsed by WHO in their revised Guidelines on Nutrition Emergencies, which clearly state 'never distribute milk powders alone as part of the general dry ration' and go on to describe how it may be used within selective feeding programmes, and as part of a cereal pre-mix..

I have a copy of a letter from an expert medical committee (Golden et al) which similarly describes the appropriate use of milk powder (was this published?).

So why are agencies still distributing milk powder as part of a general ration?

There seems to be a particular problem in Latin America, where in Peru and Columbia the Oxfam office have wanted to accept large consignments of EU milk powder (both for distribution and also for monetization). ECHO in Brussels inform me that they do not have a policy against the distribution of milk powder as a single item, and that it is up to the NGO involved. This is extremely worrying as many NGOs involved in emergency food distribution do not have technical support from nutritionists and are unaware of the WHO/UNHCR/UNICEF position on the use of milk powder. I have asked ECHO to clarify their position and will let you know the outcome.

I would be very grateful if others could let me know of their experience with this issue, in particular, are there instances where milk powder has been used safely as part of a general ration? I would also be grateful if those nutritionists working with the UN, NGOs or government (particularly donors) could confirm their policy position.

Many thanks.


Helen Young,