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By: John Maico M. Hernandez, DOST-PSTC Batangas

Third episode of Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) Batangas’ TechSilog Online Seminar Series Season 3 highlighted Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s (DOST-FNRI) Brown Rice Bar, Iron Fortified Rice and Iron Rice Premix Technology aired via Zoom and Facebook live, March 02.

The featured technologies function to help address Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) which is prevalent among four out of 10 and three out of 10 pregnant and lactating women, respectively. According to FNRI, fortifying rice with iron is a strategic nutrition move in helping to combat IDA since rice is the staple food of most Filipinos. Mr. Alex M. Palomo, Senior Science Research Specialist at DOST-FNRI, facilitated the online discussion participated by a total of 51 participants composed of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), educators, students, researchers, government officers, and private organizations.

Mr. Palomo started his discussion with the Brown Rice Bar, popularly known as “Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar”. He explained how this rice bar serves as a a good source of energy, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. As this is combined with selected dried fruits, seeds, nuts, and honey as an all-natural binder and sweetener, it bears a very good competitive advantage. Aside from vitamins and minerals, Mr. Palomo mentioned that a 25g brown rice bar contains 3.55g Fat, 2.63g protein and 109kcal energy. Hence, this snack is a good dose of energy which makes it suitable food for calamities. During a calamity in Mindanao, this product has served as an emergency food of the affected communities distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Office X as part of the relief food packs. Unlike the majority of cereal and energy bars in the market, this bar does not contain high fructose corn syrup (a popular sweetener linked to obesity and other health problems) which makes it a healthier snackfood alternative for diabetic and weight-watchers. A list of all the potential markets of this brown rice bar extending from retail, and commercial to institutional was likewise presented by Mr. Palomo.

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The next part of Mr. Palomo’s discussion focused on iron fortified rice. He shared how this technology was developed in response to symptoms of anemia such as fatigue and low-productivity, maternal and perinatal mortality, low birth weight, kidney and neutral development and cognitive and motor development. Through the Philippine Food Fortification Law of 2020, the processing of this iron fortified rice became possible. The fortificant used in this technology was also described according to its features which include dispersibility in liquid, no precipitation, mild on stomach, non-irritating, and stable against pH, heat, salt & oxidation. Mr. Palomo likewise detailed out that this technology uses hot extrusion, which involves passing a mixture of rice flour, binder, and water through a screw extruder at a high temperature (70-110 °) to produce totally and partially pre-cooked simulated rice kernels with a sheen and transparency similar to normal rice kernels. Yet another good thing about this iron fortified rice is that it has no discoloration, has good iron retention after washing, very effective, and has acceptable sensory attributes.

Questions and concerns of the participants were addressed during the “Consultalk” segment. The segment also served as the participants’ avenue for lobbying their ideas to the speaker. Meanwhile, DOST Batangas Provincial Director Ms. Felina C. Malabanan extended her message of gratitude to all the participants who keep on supporting PSTC Batangas’ efforts to bring science and technology closer to the people through different modalities like the TechSilog. Thus, she reminded everyone to always embrace innovations and unfold the potentials of adopting the technologies developed by DOST.