Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) is used to treat young children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition. RUTF with low and balanced linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, plus omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), supports long-term cognitive recovery. DHA is prone to degradation due to peroxidation, possibly exacerbated by the iron inherently in RUTF. Our goals were to prepare benchtop and manufacturing scale of RUTF formulations that include DHA and measure its retention. Twenty-seven RUTF formulas with base ingredients, including oats, high oleic or commodity peanuts, and encapsulated or oil-based DHA at various levels were prepared at benchtop scale, followed by seven months of climate-controlled storage. These pilot samples had similar relative DHA retention. At the manufacturing scale, DHA was added at one of two stages in the process, either at the initial or the final mixing stage. Samples taken at preliminary or later steps show that less than 20% of DHA added at the early stages disappeared prior to packaging for any recipe tested. Overall, our data indicate that most DHA included in RUTF is retained in the final product and that DHA is best retained when added at the latest manufacturing stage.
- food processing
- ready to use therapeutic food
- severe acute malnutrition