WFP Scandal: Distributed substandard in quality nutrition-boosting porridge mix was detected

The World Food Programme is investigating how up to 50,000 tonnes of nutrition-boosting porridge mix it purchased for distribution to nursing mothers and malnourished children in Somalia, Yemen, Bangladesh, and elsewhere was of substandard quality, despite its quality inspection process.
The UN agency said it became aware of concerns over quality when one sample was tested in June 2018 for unrelated reasons, according to a statement issued on 11 February.
WFP then initiated laboratory tests across other shipments of the porridge mix, branded as 'Super Cereal', which it “suspected of being below optimal standard”, a spokesperson for the agency said. The product was found to be low in protein and fat, with one batch containing 27 percent less protein than required. The product is safe to eat, the WFP noted.
Independent nutritionists confirmed to IRIN the product would be safe to eat but said lower protein content – likely the result of an insufficient amount of soybeans – meant the supplement wouldn’t have the intended curative or preventative effects.
Super Cereal can support the nutritional needs of nursing and pregnant women and can be used in school feeding programmes. It is also used to help prevent or reduce moderate acute malnutrition among under-fives, according to Patrick Webb, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University, and former head of nutrition at WFP.
These are “important food items that need to be produced to the highest standards in order to achieve intended impacts,” Webb said.
The agency declined to confirm which of its suppliers is under investigation by its Office of the Inspector General. A spokesperson said investigators are determining if “operational error, negligence, or fraudulent behaviour” are at fault.
WFP noted that it continues to issue millions of dollars in new contracts to the firm in question because there is a “limited pool” of suppliers of the product.
In an emailed statement, the agency said it had put in place special measures: “WFP has issued contracts to the company for Super Cereal Plus under a new regime with intensified compliance and monitoring measures including more checks during the process, and daily reports from the company and from the inspection company.” Super Cereal Plus is an enriched version of Super Cereal and made up one third of the suspect 50,000 tonnes, according to WFP.

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