Porridge specifications    
porridge specifications Veronique Priem 10.09.98
porridge specifications Nichols Buford 06.09.98
Porridge specifications Helen Young 11.09.98

Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 10:50:54 +0200

From: Veronique.PRIEMatparis.msf.org (Veronique PRIEM)

Subject: Ngonut: porridge specifications


Dear Ngotnut,

A question about the specifications for porridge for malnourished children (severe in second phase or moderate) :

When running nutritional programmes in the field, with specialised food donated by agencies, it is usually not difficult for NGOs to receive blended food (CSB, Unimix, WSB) in desired quantities. It is usually more difficult to obtain oil, and sugar, in order to prepare a premix for adequate porridge used in feeding centers.

So, the recipe can depend on what we receive or what we are able to buy on the local market or abroad.

As MSF, we usually have founds to complete donations in order to attain our nutritional recommendation, but for other NGOs, it can be a problem.

We recommend a porridge providing :

Minimum 100 Kcal/100ml

9 to 12% energy from proteins (target 10%)

30 to 55 % energy from lipids (target 40%)

I'm just back from the field, and I'm very surprised to see, in some place, the absence of recommendations and standard specifications known by people working in nutrition, especially concerning porridge.

So I'm interested to know the practical recommendations for a porridge, agencies or other NGOs propose for the field.



Véronique Priem, Médical department MSF France.

Date: Sun, 06 Sep 1998 14:48:19 +0100

From: "Buford Nichols, M.D." <bnicholsatbcm.tmc.edu>

Subject: Re: Ngonut: porridge specifications


Can you be more specific about the type of starch used in making your porridge? All cereals are not created equal. Was it cooked? Was it pretreated with amylase or fermented?


Buford Nichols

Baylor College of Medicine

1100 Bates St.

Houston, Tx, USA


From: Helen Young <h.youngatodi.org.uk>

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 15:23:07 -0400

Subject: Ngonut: Porridge specifications


Dear NGOnut colleagues,

Below are some notes on blended food, and their specifications. These were largely taken from the UNHCR/Oxfam/MI Study on Acceptability and Use of Cereal-Based Foods in Refugee Camps, Case-Studies from Nepal, Ethiopia and Tanzania, (An Oxfam Working Paper), by Catherine Mears (1998). I also have the specifications for a range of blended foods found in these case-studies. These are contained in a file which I hesitate in attaching to this email for fear of adding to peoples email server costs. Let me know anyone who wants this information.

The specifications are variable, particularly in relation to micronutrients, and at this stage it is probably not realistic to expect feeding programme managers to adapt recipes for porridge to ensure the same levels of micronutrients are maintained. Far better to have standard products for particular purposes, or as Nutriset have tried to do - develop fortification mixes which can be used in combination with unfortified blended food in feeding programmes. (selective feeding NOT general ration programmes).

Helen Young


Blended foods are a mixture of cereals and other ingredients, including, for example:

Cereal like maize, sorghum, millet, wheat or combination, providing carbohydrates and protein; Pulses (chickpeas) or soya beans as an additional source of protein; Oilseeds (groundnuts, dehulled sunflowerseeds, sesame), soya bean or stabilized vegetable oil as an additional source of oil; Vitamin/mineral supplement;

If required sugar can be included in the recipe; it replaces an equivalent amount of cereal

Blended food should be produced in accordance with the ‘Code of Hygienic Practice for Foods for Infants and Children’ and ‘Code of Sound Manufacturing Practices’ of the Codex Alimentarius.

There are a number of processes for the commercial production of blended foods, including for example; Dry blending of milled ingredients.

Toasting or roasting, and milling of ingredients.

Extrusion cooking.

The final product is usually milled into powder form, and fortified with a vitamin mineral premix.

A range of ‘blended’ foods are available worldwide for a variety of purposes. Some blended foods were originally designed to provide protein supplements for weaning infants and younger children or for low- cost weaning foods in developing countries. Guidelines on Formulated Supplementary Foods for Older Infants and Young Children have been developed by the FAO Codex Alimentarius Commission (1991). These guidelines refer to blended foods suitable for use for infants from six months of age up to the age of three years, for feeding young children as a supplement to breastmilk or breastmilk substitutes. They are intended to provide those nutrients, which either are lacking or are present in insufficient quantities in the basic staple foods.

Several locally produced blended foods have been developed for the commercial market, and only later used or adapted for emergency relief (e.g. likuni phala, faffa)

Some of these products are now used in the general ration for adults and children as a means of providing an additional source of micronutrients. Studies among refugees in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nepal, have shown that blended foods are acceptable and eaten by everybody. Even though the blended food that was distributed was not itself familiar, it was easily recognizable as porridge and could be prepared easily into an already familiar dish.

Blended foods have also been designed for use in nutritional rehabilitation programmes. These products are more expensive than regular blended foods, partly because of their higher quality ingredients and higher specification packaging. They also contain a wider range of micronutrients suitable for the needs of malnourished children.

Nutritional quality

Blended foods tend to provide significantly higher levels and better quality protein than cereals (FAO recommend in the order of 15g protein per 100g blended food), together with increased levels of micronutrients and sometimes additional fat. The precise nutritional composition of blended food depends on the particular product (see Annex x).

FAO recommend the final level of fat in the porridge or drink prepared from blended food, should provide between 20 and 40% of energy, which corresponds to between 10g and 25g of fat or oil in 100g food. This amount is rarely included in processed blended food, so instructions for use on the label must recommend the addition of a specified quantity of oil or fats during the preparation of the food.

WFP Rome recommends that the micronutrient content per 100g dry finished product is:

Vitamin A 1,664 iu

Vitamin B1 0.128mg

Vit B2 0.448mg

Vit B3 4.8mg

Folate 60ug

Vitamin C 48mg

Vit B12 1.2ug

Iron 8.0mg (as ferrous fumarate)

Calcium 100.0 mg (as calcium carbonate)

Zinc 5.0 mg (as zinc suplhate)

Extruded and roasted blended foods are ‘pre-cooked’ and therefore require minimal cooking, which preserves levels of micronutrients. Some pre-cooking is essential to ensure micro-organisms present in the cooking water are killed.

Blended foods are very expensive compared with whole grain cereals.

Previously, most blended foods for emergency use originated in the USA. Corn soy blend (CSB) and wheat soy blend (WSB) are provided to WFP by the United States. They are fortified with vitamin and mineral premixes containing eleven vitamins (A,B-12, C, D, E, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamin) and six minerals (calcium, iodine, iron, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc).

With the inclusion of blended foods in the general rations, WFP are increasingly using locally produced blended foods, for example, ‘faffa’ in Ethiopia, ‘likuni phala’ in Malawi, and ‘Unilito’ in Nepal. Specifications for these products are shown in Annex (available in report or from HY) .

Blended foods must be packaged in plastic lined bags to prevent them from absorbing moisture from the atmosphere. The handling of blended foods requires special care, in order to maintain the integrity of the package. Once the packaging is damaged and the product becomes wet or soiled the contents must usually be rejected.

Storage at high temperatures over long periods can reduce the nutritive value, especially the added heat labile vitamins. Flavour and colour may also be affected.