Plumpy'nut, a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)
|Nutritional value per 92 g|
|Energy||2,100 kJ (500 kcal)|
|Ingredients||peanut paste, vegetable oil, powdered milk, powdered sugar, vitamins, and minerals|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: Nutriset, France
Plumpy'nut is a peanut-based paste in a plastic wrapper for treatment of severe acute malnutrition manufactured by a French company, Nutriset. Removing the need for hospitalization, the 92 gram packets of this paste can be administered at home and allow larger numbers to be treated.
Plumpy'nut may be referred to in scientific literature as a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) alongside other RUTFs such as BP-100, a solid form of therapeutic milk.
Plumpy’nut has a two-year shelf-life and requires no water, preparation, or refrigeration. Its ease of use has made mass treatment of malnutrition in famine situations more efficient than in the past. Severe acute malnutrition has traditionally been treated with therapeutic milk and required hospitalization. Unlike milk, Plumpy'nut can be administered at home and without medical supervision. The United Nations has recognized this utility, stating in 2007 that "new evidence suggests... that large numbers of children with severe acute malnutrition can be treated in their communities without being admitted to a health facility or a therapeutic feeding centre." Plumpy'nut conforms to the UN definition of a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).
The ingredients in Plumpy'nut include "peanut-based paste, with sugar, vegetable fat and skimmed milk powder, enriched with vitamins and minerals". Plumpy'nut is said to be "surprisingly tasty".
While the majority of Plumpy'nut was made in France as of 2010, this therapeutic food is easily produced and can be made locally in peanut-growing areas by mixing peanut paste with a slurry of other ingredients provisioned by Nutriset.
A number of partner companies and one non-profit organization make Plumpy'nut locally; most are in Africa. (There are 10 partners as of 2011 and 12 as of 2013.)
How it works
Plumpy’nut is frequently used as a treatment for emergency malnutrition cases. It supports rapid weight gain, which can make the difference between life and death for a young child. The product is also easy for children to eat since they can feed themselves the soft paste. The fortified peanut butter-like paste contains a balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins (macronutrients), and vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). Peanuts contain easily-digested monounsaturated fats. They are also relatively high in calories, which means that a patient receives a lot of nutrition from small amounts, important because malnutrition shrinks the stomach. They are rich in zinc and protein — both supportive for the immune system and long bone growth in reversing stunted height, while protein also contributes to muscle development. Peanuts are also an excellent source of vitamin E, an essential nutrient.
A two month Plumpy'nut regimen for a child costs $60 in 2010.
Nutriset holds US patent 6346284 (published in 2002) for the production of nut-based, nutritional foods as pastes, which they have defended to prevent non-licensees in developed countries from producing any similar products.
Some seek invalidation of Nutriset's patent. In 2010, two non-profit organizations based in the US, a country with a large number of peanut producers, sued the French company in an attempt to remove Plumpy'nut patent protections.
Others have criticized Nutriset's licensing regime. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) wrote an open letter to Nutriset in November 2009 "call[ing] for the establishment of a more flexible licensing policy". Nutriset has responded to the criticism; in many African countries, companies and NGOs are free to make the patented paste and need not pay any license fees.
- "Peanut Allergies?"
- "Peanut Paste Saves Starving African Children - ABC News."
- For 10 partner companies and one non-profit, see
- For most partners being in Africa, see