Using a highly fortified food is the most attractive option to bringing missing nutrients to vulnerable groups. The recent development of a highly nutrient-dense spread (HNDS) for the treatment of malnourished children may have some relevance for other high-risk groups. Traditionally, severely malnourished children are fed for 3–4 weeks during their recovery with adapted milk feeds prepared by mixing dried skimmed milk, oil and sugar with a vitamin and mineral complex. This approach, however, is difficult to implement, since these feeds are excellent growth media for bacteria, and they must be prepared and fed under close supervision. This constraint led to the development of a HNDS, which is obtained by replacing part of the dried skimmed milk with a mixture of groundnut butter and powdered lactoserum. This spread can be eaten without dilution with water and preliminary trials showed that children preferred this HNDS to traditional liquid diets. In HNDS all powdered ingredients are embedded in fat which protects vitamins against oxidation and increases the shelf life of this product. Spreads also have a very low humidity and bacteria do not grow in it. Attempts to use spreads to supplement other vulnerable groups such as moderately malnourished children and pregnant women are discussed.
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