By Author
  By Title
  By Keywords

October 1982, Volume 32, Issue 10

Original Article

Nutritive Value of Some Commercial Weaning and Supplementary Foods

Iftikhar A. Rana  ( Department of Biochemistry, Basic Medical Sciences Institute, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi. )
Zakia S. Khan  ( Department of Biochemistry, Basic Medical Sciences Institute, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi. )
Nayyar S. Rizvi  ( Department of Biochemistry, Basic Medical Sciences Institute, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi. )


Some locally available commercial weaning and supplementary foods were tested for their nutritive value and compared with milk alone or in combination of milk with wheat or wheat bread. Milk alone and Complan were found to be nutritionally superior to all other recipes. Wheat and milk combination were better than Cerelac and Farex in milk and at the same time much cheaper than the commercial weaning and supplementary foods (JPMA 32:249, 1982).


The infant mortality rates in Pakistan are one of the highest in the world and about 80% of the children suffer from protein energy malnutrition in a mild form (Hussain, 1970; Ali and Khan, 1975; Mahmood, 1978). It has been noted that the foods available to the children are usually of a poor quality whereas the head of the family who is normally the wage earner, gets the best of the nutrition. Furthermore the weaning practices are faulty. Mothers lack knowledge regarding nutrition, partly due to illiteracy and partly due to the fact that nutrition does not form a part of the syllabi offered in schools and colleges. Therefore the educated mothers also know little about proper nutrition.
The nutritive values of Farex and some home level weaning food recipes have been compared earlier (Rana, 1972). Khan and Eggum (1979) have also studied Farex and some baby foods and breakfast cereals. The present investigation was carried out to evaluate some commercial weaning and supplementary foods namely Farex, Complan and Cerelac. These were also compared with some simple quick mix recipes of whole wheat, ration wheat and bread prepared by simply soaking these in milk. It is a normal practice for many mothers to soak chappati or bread in milk and feed it to children with the help of a spoon.

Material and Methods

The weaning and supplementary foods were analysed for approximate composition by the methods of the association of official analytical chemists (Harwitz, 1970).
The recipes were then fed to weaning rats for 15 days and the growth rates, net protein utilisation, net dietary protein energy percent and protein efficiency ratio of these diets were determined by the methods of Pellet and Young (1980).\'
The cost of these recipes/400 calories were calculated as the World Health Organization recommends that the weaning and supplementary foods should preferably supply about 400 caloric per day to the infants and children.


The proximate composition of the various recipes is presented in table I.

The cost/400 calories of the recipes is shown in table II.

The growth rates of the experimental animals are presented in the accompanying figure.

Biological value parameters for these recipes are shown in table III.

The biological values of these recipes were tested on experimental animals as these techniques arc accepted internationally as the standard procedures for evaluation of protein quality of foods. According to Davidson et al. (1979) these animal assays yield values comparable to those obtained in human subjects.


As shown in Table I, the analysis indicates that none of these foods meet the specifications of the World Health Organization which require a minimum of 20% protein of high biological value, though these recommendations are not mandatory.
The cost per 400 calories is lowest for the wheat and milk home made recipes although only Complan has been found to be nutritionally somewhat superior to them.
The best growth rates were observed with milk alone and Complan. The growth rates with Farex and Cerelac were unsatisfactory. The growth of experimental animals on whole wheat and wheat bread was quite poor while there was virtually no growth on ration wheat. This indicates that the flour milis remove the better quality protein from the wheat for makĀ­ing semolina (sooji) and maida.
Whole wheat, wheat bread and ration wheat soaked in milk gave growth rates which were better than Farex with milk or Cerelac. Cerelac is prepared commercially using milk and cereals, and it is probable that the milk proteins in Cerelac get damaged by heat during processing. In the formulation of wheat recipes 80 gm of wheat or wheat bread were mixed with 20 gm of milk powder which is equal to 160 cc of normal cow\'s milk. This amount is suitable for soaking 80 gm of wheat chappati or bread.
Supplementation with milk has significantly improved the net protein utilization (NPU), protein efficiency ration (PER), net dietary protein energy percent (NDP%) of all the recipes and brought them nutritionally closer to Complan. This is because lysine is the limiting amino acid in wheat, and milk contains enough of it. Therefore, combining wheat with milk raises the nutritive value of wheat significantly. The highest values for NPDE percent (above 12.0) have been obtained with Complan and milk alone and according to the classification of Platt et al. (1961) these are suitable for all age groups including infants, children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating mothers. The NPDE percent of Farex and milk, Cerelac, ration wheat and milk, bread and milk, whole wheat and milk indicates that these recipes are also suitable for infants, children and adolescents but not for lactating mothers. Ration wheat, wheat bread and whole wheat are suitable for adults only (according to Platt, Miller and Payne, 1961, NPDE percent values of 8, 7.5, 5.9, 8, 4.6 and 9.5 satisfy the protein requirements of infants, toddlers, children of 5-9 years, adolescents, adults and lactating mothers respectively).
The NPU value and NDPE percent for Farex was similar to that reported by Khan and Eggum (1979). It may be mentioned here that even the NPU for the average Pakistani diet as reported by Khan and Eggum (1979) is higher than that "for Farex (68 vs 63).
The present study confirms that simple, cheap and nutritious recipes which are based on sound nutrition principles can be easily prepared and used at home. These recipes. which are relatively inexpensive, can be recommended to the women of average income families by their doctors or public health workers.
The commercial weaning foods which are quick to prepare and require no pre-ccoking also provide the necessary nutrition but the cost is obviously more than the home made recipes. It is also recommended that Farex should be used in combination with milk whereas Complan and Cerelac may be used as such.


1. Ali, S.M. and Khan, M.A. Nutrition survey of northern areas of Pakistan. Faisalabad, University of Agriculture, 1975.
2. Davidson, S., Passmore, R., Brock, J.F., Trusswell, A.S. Human nutrition and dietetics. 17th ed. London, Churchill-Livingstone, 1979, p. 42.
3. Harwitz, W. Official methods of analysis of the association of official analytical chemists. 11th ed. Washington, Association of Official Analytical Chemists, 1970.
4. Hussain, M.A. Nutrition survey of West Pakistan, Islamabad, Health Division, Government of Pakistan, 1970.
5. Khan, M.A. and Eggum, B.O. (1979) Effect of home and industrial processing on protein quality of baby foods and breakfast cereals. J. Sci. Food Agri., 30:369.
6. Mahmood, S.H. Micro nutrient survey of Pakistan. Islamabad, Planning and Development Division, Government of Pakistan, 1978, Vol. 1.
7. Pellet, P.L. and Young, V.R. Nutritional evaluation of protein foods. Food and nutrition bulletin supplement No. 4, World Hunger Program, Tokvo, United Nations University, 1980.
8. Platt, B.S., Miller, D.S., Payne, P.R. Protein values of human food, in recent advances in human nutrition. By J.F. Brock. Boston, Little, Brown, 1961, 351.
9. Rana, I.A. (1972) Nutritive value of some improved indigenous weaning food recipes and Farex. JPMA., 22:99.

Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association has agreed to receive and publish manuscripts in accordance with the principles of the following committees: