• Therapeutic foods are prepared foods that provide calories and nutrients in easily-accessible packaging. These are designed for specific, usually nutritional, therapeutic purposes as a form of dietary supplement. The primary examples of therapeutic foods are used for emergency feeding of malnourished children or to supplement the diets of persons with special nutrition requirements, such as the elderly.
• These are usually made of a mixture of protein, carbohydrate, lipid and vitamins and minerals. Therapeutic foods are usually produced by grinding all ingredients together and mixing them. “The mixing process allows for the protein and carbohydrate components of the food to be embedded in the lipid matrix.
• Ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) are a type of therapeutic food that is making a difference in the fight against malnutrition. RUTF provides calories in the form of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The food source also contains sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals to treat malnutrition in young children. Even though RUTF may be the only source of food a severely malnourished child receives, the product contains enough energy and nutritional value to ensure steady weight gain.
• The advantage of RUTF is that it is a ready-to-use paste which does not need to be mixed with water, thereby avoiding the risk of bacterial proliferation in case of accidental contamination.
• A subset of therapeutic foods, ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs), are energy-dense, micronutrient-enriched pastes that have a nutritional profile similar to the traditional F-100 milk-based diet used in inpatient therapeutic feeding programs and are often made of peanuts, oil, sugar and milk powder.
• RUTF is essential for the community-based management of children who are suffering from uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition and who retain an appetite.
a) First, it provides all the nutrients required for recovery.
b) Second, it has a good shelf life, and does not spoil easily even after opening.
c) Third, since RUTF is not water based, the risk of bacterial growth is very limited, and consequently it is safe to use without refrigeration at household level.
d) Fourth, it is liked by children, safe and easy to use without close medical supervision.
e) Finally, it can be used in combination with breastfeeding and other best practices for infant and young child feeding.