From the various blood collection measurements conducted during the Fish on Farms project, one unexpected finding was low blood thiamine concentration in our research subjects. This low thiamine blood concentration is linked to the prevalence of infantile beri-beri in the region. Thus, to increase thiamine consumption and reduce the prevalence of infantile beri-beri, LFS’s pHd student Kyly Whitfield, under the supervision of Dr. Tim Green, are looking into ways to add more thiamine to the Cambodian diet. Since fish sauce is a staple condiment in Cambodian cooking, they intend to fortify fish sauce with thiamine. However, prior to conducting research with thiamine fortified fish sauce, they must first test the stability of thiamine in fish sauce and sort out any other technical issues that may arise.
Therefore, on June 3rd, I went along with Dr. Tim Green and Ms. Crystal Karakochuk to meet with Mr. Pol Sambath from the Reproductive and Child Health Alliance (RACHA) to discuss these issues.
Furthermore, prior to conducting a research experiment with thiamine fortified fish sauce, we must get permission and support from the local Cambodian government. Hence, on June 4th, I went along with Dr. Tim Green and Ms. Crystal to meet with Mr. Mam Borath, Permanent Vice President of the National Sub-Committee for Food Fortification. Additionally, we had the chance to visit a fish sauce factory and met with its owner/manager to further explore the possibility of thiamine fortification.
This factory has already taken part in RACHA’s Fish sauce Iron fortification initiative and has the machinery in place to fortify fish sauce with Iron in the form of NaFe Edta pre-mix. Hence, we hope that this factory is willing to produce the first batch of thiamine and iron fortified fish sauce for us in the near future.
By: Ingrid Chandra