Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)
Transforming the treatment of severe malnutrition

Around the world, one in five children under five dies from severe wasting – the most dangerous form of malnutrition. Conflicts and disasters have had devastating consequences on children and families’ ability to access nutritious food.

UNICEF works with our partners to procure and provide ready-to-use therapeutic food or RUTF, a nutrient-rich food packed with calories, vitamins and minerals that helps treat children with severe wasting. As a result, millions of children around the world have been treated with RUTF, allowing them to recover in their own homes and communities rather than in a health facility.

What is RUTF?

Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) are packets of high-protein and nutrient-rich food that a child experiencing severe wasting can eat and digest easier than regular food.

  • RUTF comes in a one-dose foil packet, has a shelf life of two years and doesn’t require refrigeration, even after opening;
  • It doesn’t require preparation and doesn’t need to be mixed with water, reducing the risk of children consuming contaminated water;
  • It is safe and easy to use and can be eaten straight from the packet.

UNICEF procures different types of RUTF including Plumpy'Nut®, which is a peanut-based paste, as well as therapeutic milk, and even a fish-based product introduced in Cambodia with the help of UNICEF Canada donors.

Each RUTF packet comes ready to use and is easy for a parent or other caregiver to administer. One carton of RUTF contains 150 packets, enough for one six- to eight-week course of treatment to restore the health of a severely malnourished child.

It's cost effective to produce, easy to supply, and a course can bring a severely malnourished child back to health in just 4-6 weeks.

What is RUTF?

We are delivering RUTF to children who need it most

UNICEF is the global leader in RUTF procurement and purchasing, distributing almost 80 per cent of the world's supply — reaching millions of children in dozens of countries every year.

Delivering RUTF to communities where children require it is a complex undertaking. Supplies of RUTF are typically transported to warehouses in field offices and then sent to community health programs. Careful supply planning ensures that buffer stocks are available in nearby warehouses in case there is a surge in demand or a delay in replenishment.

In some of the world's most complex emergencies, RUTF has played a vital role in saving children's lives by providing them with much-needed essential nutrition.

A mother holds her twin daughters who are eating from packets of ready-to-use-therapeutic food.
Arafa Musa cuddles her twin daughters Mawada and Mushtaha while the two eat ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF) at a health facility in Port Sudan. Arafa receives weekly rations of RUTF as part of the treatment to restore her children’s health.

Help us provide children with access to life-saving nutrition