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Hormel Foods, USDA to help improve development in malnourished children

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 9:37 a.m. CST

AUSTIN, Minn. — Hormel Foods Corporation announced promising results of the nutrition research portion of Project SPAMMY®.

SPAMMY®, a fortified poultry product designed by Hormel Foods and named after the company’s iconic SPAM® family of products, was created to help address malnutrition in children.

SPAMMY is used as an ingredient and blends easily into customary diets. The product was tailored to meet the specific micronutrient needs of children in Guatemala based on findings from earlier research conducted by Hormel Foods.

In a public/private partnership jointly funded by Hormel Foods and the Micronutrient-Fortified Food Aid Products Pilot (MFFAPP), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service under the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition (McGovern-Dole) Program, this latest research demonstrated the benefits of supplementing traditional diets with high-quality protein and micronutrients.

During the trial, more than 160 preschool-age children in Guatemala ate either a fortified or unfortified version of SPAMMY on school days over a 20-week period. The fortified version contained the addition of several micronutrients, such as vitamins D and B12, which are important nutrients for children, but are deficient in this area of the world. Both versions were identical in protein, calories and fat.

The study revealed:

• All participants showed greater-than-expected improvement in cognitive scores

• There was a 44 percent reduction in the number of school days missed due to illness

• Children receiving fortified SPAMMY showed statistical improvements in vitamin D and B12 levels

• A positive correlation was found between increase in cognitive gain scores and vitamin D concentrations in the treatment group

“It is encouraging to see these results and the success that SPAMMY is having in improving the lives of so many children in need,” said Kevin L. Myers, Ph. D., vice president of research and development of Hormel Foods. “Our company and our employees are enthusiastic about this program, and we plan to continue our efforts in Guatemala.”

Dr. Noel W. Solomons, scientific director for CeSSIAM, a partner in the project said, “The findings revealed the magnitude of deficiencies of two vitamins – D and B12 – in young Guatemalans, and fortified SPAMMY has outstanding potential to address this situation when it is incorporated into meals fed to children.”

Hormel Foods has been working with partners in Guatemala since 2008 to provide SPAMMY-fortified poultry product to malnourished children and donated 2.4 million cans of the protein-based item in 2013.

“Every time I return to Guatemala it is amazing to see the growth of Project SPAMMY and the positive contribution the SPAMMY product is making in the lives of so many,” said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer at Hormel Foods. “We are encouraged by the success thus far and are excited about the potential of this product to help improve the lives of children and families.”

Hormel Foods and its partners, Caritas and Food For The Poor, are also building opportunities for thousands of families by providing SPAMMY to 8,300 families, representing more than 30,000 children in Guatemala.

Additionally, Project SPAMMY provides scholarships to eight high school-age students to attend the Villa de los Niños boarding school in Guatemala City.

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