What began as an assignment for a course at The University of Costa Rica this past month could be converted into a product that would help to fight malnutrition on a worldwide level.
Eleven students majoring in Food Science at the U.C.R. will compete in Food Science Students Fighting Hunger, an event organized by The International Union of Food Science and Technology.
They’re made up of two teams who developed a food product using raw materials from Costa Rica that could help to erradicate hunger in areas of extreme poverty.
They created a dry mixture called Naji that can be used in the creation of tortillas or breakfast cereals.
Valeria Benavides, a member of team Naji, commented that the initiative started after analyzing the infantile malnutrition amongst children in the area of Chorotega, often a result of the mother’s poor health during pregnancy.
The tortilla can contribute a lot to the diet of the people, they can take advantage of the meal supplement which is high in protein in fiber, and low in sodium. Nija is produced using a mix of corn flour, beans, butter, and green plantains.
It’s not just for torillas either, the mix has a versatile power and can be used in smoothies and empañadas.
The team is made up of Benavides, Natalia Lau Lee, Fabiola Barboza Alfaro, Marisol Picado Valenzuela, Priscila Chacon Badilla, and Marie Guier Serrano.
The product is specifically designed for small children struggling with malnutrition.
The cereal version of the product, designed by the other team, is similar to the powder in that it’s high in protein and fiber, while being particularly low in sodium. High sodium diets are one of the main factors that can lead to heart problems for adults. This team is made up of Roberto Navarro, Aurora Ugalde, Mariano Calvo, Laura Cubero, and Jannette Wu who are expected to attend the competition in Dublin, Ireland between the 21st and 25th of August.
Costa Rica will be the only country from South America being represented at the health event.