Ultra Rice is a grain product made to resemble rice and fortified with vitamins and nutrients. PATH developed Ultra Rice as a food supplement for use in countries where people do not have easy access to food which satisfies the nutritional requirements for good health.
Ultra Rice was developed by Dr. James P. Cox and his wife Jeanne over a course of 20 years, starting in the 1960s while living in Canada.
Jim and Jeanne's idea was to utilitize the wasted broken rice grains and produce a nutrition-enhanced instant rice product to fight world hunger. The first criteria for feeding the people was to create a nutritious food that could be identified by the indigenous people. Second, the food should be easy to prepare, even in the crudest method on a dung burner, in less than five minutes, all the while maintaining its integrity as a recognized food. The rice should be fortified with protein and contain vitamins A and D.
The process Dr. and Mrs. Cox developed was more expensive to execute than the market value of the product and they eventually transferred their patent for the process to PATH.
Ultra Rice was first made generally available in 2005.
The grains resemble milled rice grains in size, shape, and color, but actually they are made from rice flour, added nutrients, and ingredients which preserve the nutrients.
Most Ultra Rice products are designed for blending with white rice in a ratio of 1:100 and intended to be as close as possible to rice in smell, taste, and texture.
It was originally used in Brazil, Colombia, and India, but through a partnership with World Vision the product is slated to be used in many developing countries receiving aid.
Researchers assessed the stability of Ultra Rice's vitamins as the rice is stored; ascorbate, saturated fat and antioxidants were found to be keep the vitamin A intact during storage in high humidity. Another study found that vitamin A losses would stabilize after six months and that the loss of vitamin A during cooking could be predicted.
A lack of vitamin A can cause night blindness; a study in 2005 showed that 348 pregnant Nepali women who ate Ultra Rice had improvement in night vision which did not different significantly from the improvement which could come from vitamin A as liver, carrots, capsule, or green leafy vegetables.
A ferric pyrophosphate in Ultra Rice was shown in a study involving 180 lactating nonpregnant women in Mexico to reduce iron deficiency anemia rates in the study population by 80% and iron deficiency by 29%.
A taste panel has shown that most people cannot differentiate between usual rice and Ultra Rice by taste, and various other reports have shown that there is no statistically significant difference of taste preference between Ultra Rice and rice. In a study on 134 children aged 8–11 years old participating in the Indian Mid-day Meal Scheme, 37 assessed the difference between samples and 43 subjects assessed the acceptability of fortified rice.
After PATH developed Ultra Rice many other entities began to participate in its manufacture, distributing, and the tracking of its efficacy.
Ultra Rice is usually manufactured within the country using it.
The Department of Biotechnology (India), Ministry of Agriculture (Brazil), Universidade Federal de Viçosa (Brazil), and the University of Toronto (Canada) contributed to the research and development of the Ultra Rice plan.
In India the Akshaya Patra Foundation and the Naandi Foundation implement the Ultra Rice Project. Elsewhere the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, World Vision, and World Food Programme created implementation programs.
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