The famous nutribun, popularized in the 1970s as part of the nutrition campaign for public-school students, has been enhanced anew by the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI)—with carrot, this time—to make it more nutritious, appealing and palatable to children, while creating economic opportunities for farmers and the entrepreneurs belonging to the micro, small, medium and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
In a webinar held on April 28, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said the latest enhancement of nutribun has been given a new twist by the scientists at the FNRI to make it more appealing to its stakeholders.
“Our nutribun has been reformulated by the DOST to be more nutritious, softer and more delicious,” de la Pena said in his opening remarks.
“It has also improved the quality of the nutribun to make it more appealing to the discriminating taste of children,” de la Pena added.
The newest “variant” of Enhanced Nutribun (e-nutribun) has carrots.
In 2020, the DOST-FNRI launched the first e-nutribun which had purée or crushed and mashed squash.
Similar to the previous e-nutribun, the new variant or the Enhanced Nutribun with Carrots is bread with natural fiber with no artificial flavor and color.
DOST-FNRI Director Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa told the webinar participants that they chose carrot because it provides energy, protein, vitamin A, iron, calcium, potassium and zinc in significant quantities recommended for young children.
“It has zero trans-fatty acids [or trans-fats] and has no cholesterol,” she said.
She said one serving of e-nutribun with carrots contains 500 kilocalories, 18 grams of protein, 6 milligrams of iron and 350 micrograms (ug) of vitamin A.
It is a round-shaped bun that is shiny, light yellowish with orange speckles, sweet, delicious and milky that is acceptable to all ages.
Each bun weighs approximately 160 grams, which is the recommended amount for one serving.
When packed in polyethylene plastic, it can last up to five days at room temperature.
Unlike the nutribun of the 1970s that was mainly produced for undernourished school children, Agdeppa said the DOST-FNRI’s e-nutribun can also be consumed by the whole family, although the formulation is based on the nutritional requirements of a child six to nine years old, in accordance with the Philippine Dietary Reference Intake.
The squash e-nutribun variant is rich in beta-carotene that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is a micronutrient that is commonly lacking in regular meals of Filipino children.
Other than meeting the children’s requirements for micronutrients, energy and protein, the nationwide roll-out of the squash e-nutribun provides livelihood opportunities to bakery workers and farmers as sources of raw materials like squash and other related supply and service providers.
De la Pena said DOST-FNRI decided to develop a new variant of e-nutribun to be able to provide feeding coordinators in supplementary feeding programs to have another option in providing a nutritious and delicious choice.
Besides providing nutrition to marginalized children, de la Peña said the Enhanced Nutribun program also seeks to entice entrepreneurs in the MSME category to engage in marketing quality and healthy products.
Moreover, it will also encourage prospective technology adopters and other stakeholders to continue the fight against the country’s malnutrition problems and contribute to the government’s efforts towards zero hunger.
At the same time, the challenge of tight supply and higher prices of squash used in the production of e-nutribun squash variant due to higher demand and off-season supply led to the development of carrots-based e-nutribun.
“Thus, the DOST-FNRI, seeing the abundance of carrots in other regions, developed another variant using carrots as an ingredient,” Agdeppa said.
As of October 2020, de la Peña said the DOST-FNRI has signed 126 letters of intent and 77 licensing agreements for the production of e-nutribun.
“This will enable Filipinos to buy nutritious bread, thanks to the DOST-FNRI, its regional offices and the personnel working behind the program,” he said.
For the next e-nutribun project, de la Peña asked the FNRI to conduct studies on the possible inclusion of kamote (sweet potato) and ube (purple yam).