February 5, 2008

In The News: Deworming Treats

This is certainly a new level of functional foods -- a deworming snack!

Kraft Foods -- owned by Altria -- has been in secret talks with food chemistry company TyraTech to incorporate deworming components into a snack food to be launched in rural regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where millions of young children suffer from intestinal parasitic infections (the stomach-turning picture at the right serves as a visual aide).

" The pesticides, explained R. Douglas Armstrong, chief executive of TyraTech, are derived from plant oils," reads the New York Times article.

For now, the technology is still at a pretty early stage. For instance, there's the issue of how to incorporate it into food without tainting flavors.

Additionally, some more tweaking apparently needs to be done to make this chemical strong enough to eradicate worms without debilitating the host (humans).

If it works out, it's a great feat for Kraft.

It also brings about an interesting situation. When parasitic infections are a major concern, does it matter if the solution is embedded in a mostly calorically empty snack food?

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