Unpacking RUTF

What you need to know about ready-to-use therapeutic food

Helene Sandbu Ryeng
A girl sitting with RUTF in her hand
09 November 2020

It is simple but has saved many lives.

Ready-to-use therapeutic food is UNICEF's number one medicine for treatment of malnutrition in children. 

Two hands holding RUTF

The RUTF resembles peanut butter and consist of a peanut paste, sugar, vegetable oil, milk powder, vitamins and minerals.

Each sachet contains 500 calories.


A boy eating RUTF

Because it is 'ready-to-use', the child can eat it straight away. No cooking is needed. That is an advantage especially in unsanitary settlements. Normally, the caregiver would squeeze paste directly into the child's mouth. Other children prefer using their fingers, but then you need to make sure they have washed their hands first.

A boy holding a leaf

Normally, it takes six to eight weeks for a child to recover from severe acute malnutrition when given RUTF every day.

Typically, a child needs to eat 10-15kg over that period, which is three sachets of RUTF per day.



A boy and a lollipop

If it works?


Over 90 per cent of the children treated for severe acute malnutrition in UNICEF supported nutrition centres recover.



A girl's mid-upper arm is being measures

The girl above is Amira and the photo was taken when she was discharged from the UNICEF nutrition programme.

Now, scroll up to the top photo of this article. That is Amira eight weeks earlier, when she was admitted to the nutrition programme.

Do you see the change?


UNICEF South Sudan is grateful for the contributions from UK Aid allowing us to purchase RUTF for treatment of malnourished children.
UNICEF also wants to thank the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund for their contributions