, also known as Plumpy
, is a peanut
for use in famine relief
which was formulated in 1999
by André Briend
, a French scientist
Plumpy'nut is a high protein
and high energy peanut
-based paste in a foil wrapper. It tastes slightly sweeter than peanut butter
. It is categorized by the WHO
as a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food
Plumpy’nut requires no preparation or special supervision, making it easy to deploy in difficult conditions. Plumpy'nut is very difficult to overeat and keeps even after opening. It has a 2 year shelf life when unopened. The product was inspired by the popular Nutella spread. It is manufactured by Nutriset, a French company, that specializes in making food supplements for relief work in their factory near Rouen in northern France. The ingredients are: peanut paste, vegetable oil, powdered milk, powdered sugar, vitamins, and minerals, combined in a foil pouch. Each pack provides 500 Kcal or 2.1 MJ. .
Plumpy'nut contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E, and K, and minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, iodine, sodium, and selenium.
The New York Times
reported that the paste is administered in packets, twice daily, for two to four weeks, in combination with Unimix, a vitamin-enriched flour for making porridge
, and will reverse malnutrition
in severely malnourished children.
The World Health Organization has recognized the utility of this food for famine relief. Plumpy'nut can be packaged in local peanut-producing areas, such as Malawi and Niger, by mixing the ground nut and milk paste with a slurry of vitamins and minerals from Nutriset.
Médecins Sans Frontières (known as Doctors without Borders in the US) has been dispensing fourteen packets (1 week's worth) of Plumpy'nut in 22 centers in Niger since May 2005, but only to those children who are dramatically underweight and sufficiently well to benefit from outpatient care.
Project Peanut Butter has done extensive field trials with RUTF in Malawi from 2001-2007, operating the first local factory where Plumpy'nut is produced, and distributing this therapeutic food to malnourished Malawian children in more than 20 nutritional rehabilitation centers.
How it works
Plumpy’nut is frequently used as a treatment for emergency malnutrition cases. It helps with 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 (micronutrient)s. Peanuts contain mono-unsaturated fats, which are easy to digest. They are also very high in calories, which means that a child will get a lot of energy from just small amounts (important because their stomachs have shrunk). They are rich in zinc and protein — both good for the immune system, and protein is needed for muscle development. Peanuts are also a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to convert food into energy.
A standard plumpy'nut treatment goes for four weeks (two to three times a day) at a cost of 12 Euros in Africa. The cost for four weeks of Plumpy'nut and Unimix is $35 per child. The cost in Haiti for a similar RUTF peanut butter based product is a bit higher, but still relatively inexpensive.
Plumpy‘nut was first used during the crisis in Darfur
in western Sudan
. There, it was fed to some 30,000 children and aid officials there say it has helped cut malnutrition rates in half.
In Niger, where this product was also used, there has been a huge reduction in illness and death from malnutrition. In 2005, the region that Plumpy’nut was applied had the highest malnutrition rate in Niger. The region now has the lowest malnutrition rate in the country. After widespread use, Plumpy’nut now treats more than 120,000 children (the UN estimates that 150,000 children under 5 are severely malnourished in Niger and a further 650,000 are moderately malnourished).
Plumpy'nut projects worldwide locations
- Nutriset - Plumpy'Nut, Nutriset product information
- Project Peanut Butter, a Plumpy'nut producing and distributing NGO in Malawi
- Am J Clin Nutr. The abstract and fulltext of the 2003 study by a Senegalese research team demonstrating the value of Plumpy'nut compared to a liquid, milk-based diet. Full reference : Diop el HI, Dossou NI, Ndour MM, Briend A, Wade S. Comparison of the efficacy of a solid ready-to-use food and a liquid, milkbased diet for the rehabilitation of severely malnourished children: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 78: 302-7).
- New York Times August 8, 2005 article
- A Life Saver Called "Plumpynut", CBS 60 Minutes, October 21, 2007
- MSF Warns More Food Will Not Save Malnourished Children Group Calls for Increased and Expanded Use of New, Innovative Nutritional Products