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ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #406404

Research Project: Microbiota and Nutritional Health

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Docosahexaenoic acid stability in ready-to-use therapeutic food

item JAMES, JENEVIEVE - University Of Texas At Austin
item STEPHENSON, KEVIN - Washington University School Of Medicine
item CALLAGHAN-GILLESPIE, MEGHAN - Washington University
item KAMARA, MOHAMED - Project Peanut Butter
item PARK, HUI - University Of Texas At Austin
item BRENNA, J - University Of Texas At Austin
item MANARY, MARK - Washington University

Submitted to: Foods
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/6/2023
Publication Date: 1/9/2023
Citation: James, J., Stephenson, K., Callaghan-Gillespie, M., Kamara, M.T., Park, H.G., Brenna, J.T., Manary, M.J. 2023. Docosahexaenoic acid stability in ready-to-use therapeutic food. Foods. 12(2). Article 308.

Interpretive Summary: Polyunsaturated fats (dietary fat), such as Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), support long-term brain recovery for malnourished children. Varying amounts of DHA were added to twenty-seven ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) formulas at two different stages in the manufacturing process and stored for seven months to test the stability of DHA in RUTF. Many RUTF recipes retained DHA during storage in the final product and DHA is best retained when added at the latest manufacturing stage. Additional studies are needed to address the malnourished population.

Technical Abstract: Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) is used to treat young children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition. RUTF with low and balanced linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, plus omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), supports long-term cognitive recovery. DHA is prone to degradation due to peroxidation, possibly exacerbated by the iron inherently in RUTF. Our goals were to prepare benchtop and manufacturing scale of RUTF formulations that include DHA and measure its retention. Twenty-seven RUTF formulas with base ingredients, including oats, high oleic or commodity peanuts, and encapsulated or oil-based DHA at various levels were prepared at benchtop scale, followed by seven months of climate-controlled storage. These pilot samples had similar relative DHA retention. At the manufacturing scale, DHA was added at one of two stages in the process, either at the initial or the final mixing stage. Samples taken at preliminary or later steps show that less than 20% of DHA added at the early stages disappeared prior to packaging for any recipe tested. Overall, our data indicate that most DHA included in RUTF is retained in the final product and that DHA is best retained when added at the latest manufacturing stage.