In famine, flood or other disaster,
Illinois scientists recommend
soy food bar
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URBANA -- War
refugees, hurricane victims and famine survivors need access to an
inexpensive, excellent protein source in a form that can be easily
air-dropped and will be acceptable to all cultural and religious
University of Illinois food
scientists Keith Cadwallader and Barbara Klein believe their
formulation for an emergency relief bar, which contains 100 percent
soy as its protein source, fills the bill very nicely.
"Soy is ideal for this product
because it's essentially a perfect protein," said Cadwallader, who
is co-director of the Illinois Center for Soy Foods.
"You can get a high
concentration of soy protein into a small amount of food, and that's
important in an emergency situation," added Sharon Covert, a Bureau
County farmer who chairs the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board.
Until now, U.S. relief agencies
have imported emergency food bars from Great Britain, and those bars
contained other protein sources.
The Illinois scientists
formulated their bar to meet the specifications of the National
Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine. Klein was familiar with
those specifications because she served on the committee that
The bars had to be a complete
nutrition source for up to two weeks for people of any age and size,
be able to weather adverse conditions, and score slightly above
average in taste tests. They can be crumbled and mixed in porridge
They also had to be culturally
neutral in flavor, composition and even color. "We couldn't use
ingredients that would offend certain religious sects, no milk or
animal products of any sort. And we aimed for an almond-like color
that we believed would be accepted everywhere," Cadwallader said.
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Klein and Cadwallader benefited
from the experience of graduate student Laura Brisske, who
successfully procured donations of almost all the ingredients,
including a custom-blended vitamin and mineral mix. She also
researched the production of nutrition bars, asking for advice from
a company that makes them.
The result was an emergency
relief product that performed at least as well in taste tests as the
best-liked commercially available power bar, Cadwallader said.
Cadwallader hopes the bar they
developed will influence food companies to use more soy in their
power bars. Soy proteins now compete with milk proteins as a
power-bar ingredient. "Soy is a good alternative to dairy proteins
because many people are allergic to milk products," he said.
"The relief bar is essentially
a power bar. Hopefully, some food companies will start looking at
using soy in a somewhat different way, to make some good-tasting
protein bars," Klein said.
The two scientists also expect
other developers of prototypes, including the U.S. Army's ration
development center, to review their study and be impressed by soy's
Funding for the bar's
development was provided by the state of Illinois through the
Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research and by the
Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board.
[University of Illinois news release]