Reducing oil separation in ready-to-use therapeutic food

Andrea Zuzarte, Melody Mui, Maria Isabel Ordiz, Jacklyn Weber, Kelsey Ryan, Mark J. Manary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) is a shelf-stable, low moisture, energy dense medicinal food composed of peanut butter, vegetable oils, milk powder, a multiple micronutrient premix and sugar. RUTF is used by millions of children annually to treat malnutrition. After mixing, RUTF is a semisolid covered with oil. To produce a homogenous RUTF, hydrogenated vegetable oils are incorporated in small quantities. This study utilized a benchtop methodology to test the effect of RUTF ingredients on oil separation. An acceptable oil separation was <4%. This method compared 15 different vegetable oil stabilizers with respect to oil separation. The dynamic progression of oil separation followed a Michaelis-Menten pattern, reaching a maximum after 60 days when stored at 30 °C. Hydrogenated vegetable oils with triglyceride or 50% monoglycerides reduced the oil separation to acceptable levels. The additive showing the largest reduction in oil separation was used in an industrial trial, where it also performed acceptably. In conclusion, fully hydrogenated soybean and rapeseed oil added as 1.5% controlled oil separation in RUTF.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfoods9060706
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Food aid
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils
  • Oil separation
  • Peanut paste
  • Ready-to-use therapeutic food


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