Consumption and wastage of home-fortified maize flour products in northern Malawi
Objective: The objective of the study was to determine the amount of home fortified maize flour products consumed and wasted by women aged 15-49 years, and children aged ≤ 5 years.
Design: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study.
Setting: The study took place in Ekwendeni, a home fortification project area in Mzimba District, Northern Region, Malawi.
Subjects: The study subjects were members of a random sample of 205 households practising home fortification.
Outcome measures: The study’s outcome measures included weighing fortified nsima, a thick maize flour-based porridge which was consumed, and its leftovers, using a kitchen scale. Using systematic random sampling, fortified maize flour and nsima samples were collected from households for energy, iron, zinc and vitamin A analysis. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics.
Results: The food intake and plate waste of fortified food products pertaining to 94 children (49% male and 51% female) and 173 women was analysed. Predominantly, nsima (55%) was the main food product made from fortified maize flour. Other foods were porridge and chigumu, whole maize flour-based bread. Overall, the daily average consumption of fortified foods (nsima, porridge and chigumu) was 332 g/day for children, and 1011 g/day for women. Plate waste accounted for 25% of the food served to the children, and 12% served to the women. Discarding fortified nsima resulted in a 23% loss of energy and micronutrients in the children, and a 11.2% loss in the women.
Conclusion: Commonly consumed home-fortified maize flour products were nsima, porridge and chigumu. The plate waste of the fortified foods, primarily nsima, resulted in considerable loss of energy and micronutrients, especially in the children. Home-fortification interventions should include nutrition messages on food budgeting to minimise food and nutrient losses in women and children in northern Malawi.
Keywords: home fortification, Malawi, micronutrients, plate waste, nsima