No, we did not invent it. Andre Briend, a researcher working with MSF labs, came up with the idea of pouring existing F100 powdered milk formula into peanut butter to stabilize it. Years before that, Dr. Michael Golden lead a team at MSF to develop F100, a special super-milk formula that was amazingly effective at curing and treating malnutrition. Golden promptly offered this “invention” to the world as a public good and a few places started making it.
F100, however, had its downsides. Mixing powdered milk requires good, clean water and once it’s mixed, F100 offers a very short shelf life. It’s also a challenge for a mother to correctly mix in proportion to a child’s age and weight.
This led Andre Briend to come up with the idea of stabilizing this super-milk formula in a paste substance. The very first clinical trial that put RUTF “on the map” was conducted by Dr. Mark Manary in Malawi. There is a joint statement about the efficacy of RUTF and CMAM put out by the World Health Organization and many of the references in that statement point to the work of Dr. Mark Manary and Dr. Steve Collins as key innovators and pioneers. In addition, a French company called Nutriset took on the task of making RUTF and now makes a version called “Plumpy’Nut”. It took a team of great humanitarians, scientists and entrepreneurs to think it up, produce it and prove that it actually worked on malnourished children.
As with any good idea, it spread! Now, there are as many as a dozen producers of RUTF around the world. MANA’s headquarters and production facility are both in the United States, which allows us to refine our technology to maximize effectiveness before assisting or opening production facilities in developing countries. Our headquarters is in North Carolina, and our factory is in Georgia. We are actively working with partners like Dr. Manary’s Project Peanut Butter to improve our response to a massive, but solvable problem. We acknowledge that while RUTF is a proven lifesaver, it is not the solution to all world hunger. That is why we do not limit ourselves to helping through our products. We also spread awareness of malnutrition through campaigns and through available forums like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.