Rivalz Extrusion Experts Help Improve Humanitarian Food Aid Offerings

Rivalz Stuffed Snacks are made through extrusion cooking and luckily, we have some of the best extrusion experts in the world on our team to make our delicious snacks. Beyond being tasty, we have unlocked the power of extrusion for improving food safety and nutritional quality of energy and nutrient dense humanitarian foods Lipid-based Nutrient Supplements (RUTF/RUSF) by using extrusion cooking for enhancing diet quality and food safety of life saving nutritional products.

Amongst other Specialized Nutritional Foods, humanitarian food-aid consists of nutrient dense nutritional products such as Lipid-based nutritional supplements (LNS), Ready to Use Therapeutic foods (RUTF), and Ready to Use Supplementary Foods (RUSF). These products were developed in the 1990’s and revolutionized the prevention and treatment of malnutrition in low-and middle-income countries. Since their initial formulation, they have become globally used for at-risk populations, especially children.

According to recent data from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (ICP), over 166 million people are in a crisis or worse phase of acute food insecurity and over 300 million people are in a stressed phase of acute food insecurity globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) tracks 3 forms of malnutrition in children and data from 2022 indicate that over 148 million children are effected by stunting, 45 million children were affected by moderate to severe wasting, and 37 million children were affected by overweight. Specialized nutritional foods have been widely distributed by aid organizations to support these at risk populations. Rivalz wanted to apply their extrusion expertise to help improve the formulation of LNS, RUTF and RUSF products.

How can extrusion help?

During extrusion, food ingredients are mixed then cooked as they pass through a barrel while exposed to high heat and mechanical shear. The ingredient mixture is pushed through an opening at the end of the extruder and then cooled and packaged. The high temperature of cooking with the continuous processing extruder helps to kill any harmful bacteria or pathogens and improves food safety.

The combination of high temperature and shear during cooker extrusion can also help improve nutrient digestibility and availability by breaking down complex carbohydrates and proteins in the ingredients making them easier for the body to absorb, which is especially important for people at risk for malnutrition. Many nutrient-dense legumes naturally contain fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) such as fructans, galacto-oligosaccahrides, that can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and naturally occurring compounds called anti-nutrient factors including lectins, tannins, trypsin inhibitors and phytates  that may reduce nutritional benefits of fortified foods. Most LNS products today are made with peanuts or the combination of peanuts and soybeans, but additional legume sources like mungbean and grains or cereal ingredients are worth considering. Extrusion can help reduce the anti-nutrient factors and the barriers to maximum nutritional benefit. Finally, the short duration to high, well-controlled heat during extrusion can prove beneficial for the retention of vitamins and minerals that are essential to maximize nutritional benefits in people receiving LNS .

Although extrusion has been widely used in food manufacturing, the application of cooker extrusion for manufacturing LNS products has not been previously explored. This novel use of cooker extrusion technology can improve digestion and absorption, reduce anti-nutrient factors, improve food safety, and allow for novel, regionally sourced, nutrient-dense ingredients to be considered in LNS formulas. Additionally, if broadly applied, extrusion might allow for the increased local manufacturing of LNS to be expanded globally, with multiple benefits including reducing shipment costs and importation complexity, improved product consistency/quality and accelerating the distribution of these life-saving nutrition products to the people who need them most.

In April 2024, Rivalz completed a proof-of-concept research project that successfully demonstrated the use of extrusion for the manufacturing of LNS. Experiments took place over 2 days and showed promising results. The success of this initial project provides possibilities of exploring many potential benefits of cooker extrusion in manufacturing of LNS and other products to provide the advantages mentioned above. Rivalz aims to advance its mission to improve nutrition by uncovering novel solutions to global problems by unlocking the power of extrusion technology to address hunger and food insecurity.

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