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 Global Malnutrition

Private Industry-Government-SUSTAIN.
A Great Combination.
A Letter from the Director

Malnutrition, the world's "silent emergency," leads to death and disability on a vast scale, particularly among children and women of child-bearing age. Large segments of the world's people are malnourished in calories, protein and/or micronutrients. Poor nutrition contributes to at least 3.5 million child deaths each year and magnifies the effect of every disease, undermining health, learning, productivity, curiosity, incentive and hope. Its costs cripple individuals and nations

Creative applications of food science and food technology can help alleviate malnutrition, particularly when the public and private sectors collaborate. SUSTAIN engages industry, the international research community, and the public sector in initiatives to enhance the nutritive quality of foods widely consumed in developing countries, including commodities distributed as U.S. food aid.

Innovation is the hallmark of SUSTAIN initiatives. With private and public sector partners in the U.S. and Mexico, SUSTAIN developed, piloted, and commercially proved a new technology system for enriching the “wet milled” tortilla. This beloved food staple is made from ground, lime-steeped corn (nixtamal) in neighborhood mills and sold throughout Mexico on a daily basis. The result is a nutritionally enhanced product that looks and tastes like the traditional tortilla, and that pioneer millers sell at no added cost. Micronutrient fortified tortillas are changing children’s lives one meal at a time in ways the kids don’t even notice.

Private sector know-how and sound science fuel our activities to improve nutrition in vulnerable populations. For example, a SUSTAIN team of experts in manufacturing quality control is helping USDA update and strengthen U.S. food aid commodity specifications and compliance testing, both critical tools for assuring the quality of food delivered to the world’s hungry. Another team of experts in nutritional and food science is developing recommendations to guide the formulation of products targeted to infants and young children and other vulnerable recipient populations.

Alleviating iron deficiency, the most prevalent nutritional disorder worldwide, is an underlying goal of many of our initiatives. Elemental iron powders are the most widely used iron fortificants worldwide as they cause few problems with food vehicles. In the face of contradictory reports about their nutritional impact, SUSTAIN engaged a team of scientists to rigorously evaluate the bioavailability of all commercially available elemental iron fortificants. Industry contributed samples and expertise and used the information generated to improve an economically minor but socially important product line (most iron powders are used in precision parts by the automotive industry). As a part of this initiative SUSTAIN developed a prototype tool for effective early screening of iron fortificants to facilitate more informed choice of products.

There is much cutting edge work being done, and I am proud of SUSTAIN’s accomplishments on behalf of malnourished populations. As you tour our website, I think you'll see why.

Elizabeth Turner
Executive Director