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Soy-Fortified Complementary & Weaning Foods

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

Preliminary results of the study were released in Fall 2017 and can be viewed here. A full report of the study will be available in mid-2018. If deemed acceptable and feasible, this soy-based complementary food would play an important role in SIL's broader mission of introducing more high-quality protein to regions vulnerable to malnutrition. 

Contact us at soybeaninnovationlab@illinois.edu to learn more. 

 

Contact 

 

Dr. Juan Andrade
Food Science & Human Nutrition
University of Illinois
Maggie Cornelius 
Program Coordinator
University of Illinois