Focus on Quality in Food Aid  
Food Aid Quality Enhancement Project

The Food Aid Quality Enhancement Project (FAQEP) launched in 2004 with the goal of enhancing the quality and nutrient profile of food aid sent overseas through the U.S. government's Food for Peace program (Public Law 480, Title II). Project objectives are to 1) strengthen food aid commodity quality control and assurance systems, and 2) identify nutritional parameters and product attributes for commodity reformulations/new products that better serve today's most vulnerable food aid recipients particularly infants and young children and women of child-bearing age.

Quality Enhancements:
SUSTAIN’s team of food technologists and nutritionists collaborated with stakeholders in the initiative’s first year to evaluate where in the food aid supply chain quality problems arose, how these were being handled and options for addressing these issues more effectively. The project’s recommended improvements to the government's quality assurance systems include more rigorous product specifications and more consistent analytic testing requirements for use in verifying that products meet specification. FAQEP has also provided the agency with supporting guidance on manufacturing quality control, appropriate lot sizes consistent with commercial practice and selection of laboratories capable of performing accurate analyses. The agency has adopted many of our recommendations, and has taken others into consideration. In 2007, USDA contracted with SUSTAIN to continue this work with agency funding. To read more click here.

Product Formulations:
The formulations of fortified blended foods (FBFs) originally developed for malnourished preschool age children over 40 years ago have remained largely unchanged over the history of food aid programming (reference). Through the FAQEP, experts in nutrition and product development are taking a fresh look at FBFs both as complementary foods (as originally intended) and as products that older children and families now commonly share in beneficiary households. Whether traditional FBFs like corn soy blend adequately serve malnourished children under two is a central concern as inadequate diets in this critical window can irreversibly impact cognition, growth and long term health

The FAQEP is addressing macro- and micronutrient issues such as energy density, micronutrient formulation, nutrient bioavailability, losses during cooking, acceptability and other concerns of relevance to under twos and other at-risk populations. The project surveyed PVO and WFP field offices on commodity quality, suitability and utilization patterns. Literature reviews highlighted the special needs of target populations and food technology options to address these needs. Based in part on a project-developed micronutrient simulation model, a team of nutritionists, medical specialists, food scientists and stakeholders has helped optimize and update nutrient composition targets for vulnerable groups—one critical basis for reformulation/new product development. The effects of preparation/cooking on nutrient density are being explored to design formulations that can deliver needed nutrients as typically prepared/cooked in the field. Expertise from industry is helping to develop practical manufacturing and ingredient-based strategies for cost effectively improving existing or developing new products.

The FAQEP project has supported the following publications: