Big, small firms bake enhanced Nutribun for undernourished kids

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    Small and corporate businesses are baking the country’s newest pastry product, the E-Nutribun.

    It’s an enhanced (the “E” in the bun) version of the Marcos-era Nutribun given free to elementary pupils in a 1970s project of the United States Agency for International Development to boost the nutrition of children.

    Developed by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the revived E-Nutribun is a squash- and vegetable-based bread for children’s feeding programs in elementary schools. The “E” version is different from the original that was all protein and carbohydrates.

    This time, the remake is made mainly of squash puree and filled with Vitamin A, iron, calcium and micronutrients mixed with traditional ingredients such as yeast, shortening, sugar and salt added to the dough.

    Tricia Castrodes, chief operating officer at Aretei Foods Corp., will be among the first tech transfer adoptors of the E-Nutribun.

    So are Bake Masters, a supplier of bakery products to Shakey’s; Nutridense Food Manufacturing Corp., a manufacturer in Pangasinan of research-based food products for children and adults; and Century Pacific Food Corp., better known for its canned tuna and meat products.

    “This is one way of bringing our employees back to work,” an emotional Castrodes said during the soft launch of the E-Nutribun this week, reflecting the industry layoffs brought about by the pandemic.

    The E-Nutribun will also help agriculture when bakers purchase squash and other root crops from small farmers who will be tapped to supply the raw materials for the bun, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles who heads the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger.

    “We need to jump start production of the E-Nutribun,” he said. To maximize production, small bakers and businesses should adopt E-Nutribun production and avail of DOST’s technology transfer and Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET UP), a no-collateral, zero-interest facility.

    Castrodes is a beneficiary of SET UP which helped expand her cupcakes, cakes, buns and dough business with cookie “sticks” at the center table. The idea came during consultations with the FNRI on how to make products that last longer on the shelf. (It should be dry with very low water content.) The result – Cookie Sticks or cookies that are not round but shaped like sticks.

    With the E-Nutribun, the production process is simple, and it will provide squash farmers with alternative markets when prices are low, said Dr. Mario Capanzana, FNRI director.

    “We encourage businesses to produce the E-Nutribun to ensure the nutrition of children during pandemic times,” said Dr. Anthony Calibo, FNRI’s new deputy director, a pediatrician and formerly lead child health officer at the Department of Health.

    Cooperative, corporations, single proprietorships and small businesses are welcome to avail of the E-Nutribun tech transfer from DOST, said Alex Ortiz, FNRI supervising science specialist.

    Existing facilities will be inspected for Good Manufacturing Practice compliance, what tools and equipment are needed to produce the E-Nutribun, if any more improvements are needed so that buildings and equipment are ready before the technology training starts, he said.

    Upon the signing of a licensing agreement between DOST regional offices and tech adoptors, technical assistance will be provided to lay out the proper facility and put the proper sanitation systems in place.

    After the training, which comes on a first come, first served basis, the licensee can start producing. Monitoring and evaluation of business performance, such as quality and safety of products, will be done regularly, Ortiz said. “Adoptors can discontinue the project anytime,” he added.

    “With the E-Nutribun, we will be able to reduce the malnutrition problem,” said Brenda Nazareth-Manzano, DOST undersecretary for regional operations who will be in touch with potential tech takers in the provinces.