Soy-Fortified Complementary & Weaning Foods

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The Soybean Innovation is assessing the acceptability and feasibility of a soy-blend complementary food in northern Ghana to support efforts to introduce sustainable early childhood nutrition to the region.

This study will feature varieties of weaning foods made from soy flour and orange-fleshed sweet potato called ComFa, short for Complementary Food for Africa. The food serves 15 grams of high-quality protein, exceeding the minimum daily requirement for infants under one year old.  The orange-fleshed sweet potato adds Vitamin A, for which northern Ghana is oftentimes deficient. The study will test four different varieties of this food, each with different ingredients: anchovies (called Keta school boys in Ghana), dried moringa (a green-leaved plant high in protein and iron), groundnut, and maize.

Among the array of weaning foods developed by food security projects, this soy-blend complementary food stands out for the quality of its nutrients and the availability of its ingredients.

Over 90 mothers and their infants will taste-test the weaning food. Another 80 mother-infant pairs will test the feasibility of using this food through a two-week trial. Mothers will be given instructions and ingredients for preparing the food in their own homes, and after two weeks, the mothers will report whether or not they would continue to prepare the food on a regular basis. Through questionnaires and focus groups, Soybean Innovation Lab researchers will study the food’s acceptability – whether infants will eat the food – and its feasibility – whether mothers would prepare the food.

If deemed acceptable and feasible, this soy-based complementary food would play an important role in the Innovation Lab’s broader mission of introducing more high-quality protein to regions vulnerable to malnutrition. 

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Margaret Murray Cornelius  
University of Illinois
(217) 300-2961