BIZ WOMEN // JUL 25, 2019
Her Baby Nut Butters Help PreventPeanut Allergies
Anne Stych, Contributing Writer
A non-profit founded to provide nutrition to underprivileged children has launched a commercial effort to help combat the growth of peanut allergies in the United States with the help of the Chobani incubator program.
Since Navyn Salem founded Rhode Island-based Edesia in 2009, her company’s nut butters have provided nutrition to more than 1.4 million people in 52 countries this year alone, and more than 9 million children since the company’s inception, NOSH reported.
The products are distributed through organizations including UNICEF and the World Food Programme as well as government agencies,
Peanuts are a main ingredient in the company’s products, and Edesia has developed a line called MeWe Baby that introduces nuts to infants as soon as they’re old enough for solid foods, at about six months, in hopes that early exposure will help stave off allergies later in life.
The nut butters have a thinner consistency than regular peanut butters, making them easier for children to swallow. All of the profits from the MeWe commercial products will support Edesia’s mission to treat and prevent malnutrition worldwide.
Salem’s goal is to have Edesia reach 10 million malnourished children by 2020.
Clinical guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Health in 2017 and backed by numerous health organizations and advocacy groups suggest that parents should introduce most babies to peanut-containing foods around four to six months of age.
The recommendations are based on a 2015 NIH-funded Learning Early about Peanut Allergy (LEAP) trial which found kids could be protected from peanut allergies by regularly eating a peanut butter-flavored snack, and that regular exposure — about two teaspoons of peanut butter three times a week — was key to allergy prevention.
A follow-up study showed kids exposed to peanuts early remained allergy-free even after avoiding peanuts for a year.
Edesia’s MeWe peanut butters come in a squeezable pouch and have companion ingredients that include bananas, berries and apples. The packets cost about $1.29 and are available in about 700 stores in the Northeast, including Stop and Shop and Wegmans, per NOSH.
Six-, 12- and 16-pack boxes of the .7-ounce packets and 10-ounce jars in Apple Cinnamon, Banana Coconut and Berry Coconut also are available on Amazon.
Edesia was one of eight companies selected for Chobani’s Spring 2019 business incubator program, which connects class members with mentors in the food industry and provides each participant a $25,000 grant to help them grow their business, among other benefits.
During the four-month program, incubator participants study business topics like retail strategy, branding and marketing, and innovation and manufacturing. Sessions include guest speakers, workshops, mentor rotations, field trips and social events.