Professor Levente Diosady is seeking to alleviate one of the developing world’s most serious problems – one sip at a time. Some two billion people are affected by micronutrient deficiencies, which can lead to blindness, brain damage, severe infection and death. Diosady, who directs the Food Engineering Group in the department of chemical engineering and applied chemistry, is creating a low-cost and flavourful drink that comprises clean water, protein, vitamins and micronutrients in fruit juice and soft drink formulas. “With this, you can prevent deficiency diseases, add some food protein value – which is expensive because you usually get it in meat – and provide safe drinking water at the same time,” he says.
Diosady hopes to have test products by late 2008 or early 2009, and run a pilot project perhaps one year after that – or sooner, if he can find a corporate partner. He expects the drink (which has been given the working name “Live-Ade”) to become a self-sustaining, commercial product, distributed through a major bottler or protein manufacturer. He foresees marketing the drink in areas such as India and China, or giving it away in a relief capacity in places such as Darfur refugee camps with the help of a sponsor. “It’s entirely possible that, maybe not Live-Ade but something of this sort will become the Coke of the developing world,” says Diosady. “The wildest dream of everybody in this field is to eliminate diseases caused by poor quality food.”