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RUTF stuck in a closed container over 90 days, is this safe to use?

This question was posted the Management of wasting/acute malnutrition forum area and has 3 replies.

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Anonymous 748

Normal user

24 Jul 2019, 04:03

We faced a major challenge in transporting RUTF due to the closure of the border. This resulted in one of our containers being held at the border for over 90 days (we have still 1-year expiry date). Now we are planning to reroute the container to the closest country to support another CMAM program.

However, we are worried about the quality and safety of the product after being in a closed container under the hot (average +35 degree centigrade) sun over 90 days; whether this is safe to treat the SAM children? Does anyone have expertise/experience in such a situation to explain what would possibly happen to the RUTF? Should we need to do any quality test before we use this RUTF? Is there any possibility of separating oil, decomposing texture, taste, protein quality, etc.which are not safe for SAM children? 

Anonymous 4195

Food and Nutritional product Advisor

Normal user

24 Jul 2019, 15:02

Your concern is legitimate and this is good question to ask. It is indeed demonstrated the level of vitamins is reduced and the risk of oxidation of the product is increased when the product is exposed to temperatures above 30°C. This can affect the taste of the product (rancid taste and smell) and the nutritional value (loss of vitamins). Due to the specific oily characteristic of the product, supposedly the safety (in terms of microbial development) should not be impacted by the high temperatures.

The quality and safety of the product may vary with the supplier it comes from and the conditions undergone during transportation and storage. It would be relevant for you to know who the supplier/manufacturer is and if the designated persons in your organization validated the supplier upon specific manufacturing standards. RUTF manufacturers are supposed to demonstrate the stability of their products in order to guarantee the 2 year shelf life. So this is something you can check by contacting the manufacturer.

If the products you have stayed 3+ month in containers + had transportation time, and still has 1 year remaining shelf life it means at the time of purchase it was still quite “fresh” (recently manufactured).

The recommendations with this specific stock would be:

  • Check the manufacturer name on the RUTF sachets.
  • Contact your procurement team to check if they had a process of validation of the manufacturer: did they audit the manufacturer and if yes, according to which standards? They should check as well if the manufacturer conducted a proper stability study
  • Collect the certificate of analyses of the product that should have been provided with the purchase of the RUTF (and that is necessary to get for custom clearance).
  • It is always a good idea and hence recommended to take samples and get the product tested by an accredited laboratory to see if it is in line with the product specifications; Primarily it would be advisable to test for safety parameters, some nutritional parameters (at least 2 vitamins) and oil oxidation.

Finally the oil separation can be an issue but this is not so much of concern because it is advised (and this is indicated on the packaging) to knead the product before opening.

Anonymous 748

Normal user

24 Jul 2019, 20:20

Great! many thanks for your comprehensive response. Very useful.

Andrew Chinguwo

Valid Nutrition Limited

Normal user

25 Jul 2019, 09:58

For an established supplier of RUTF they are required to demonstrate that their product is able to achieve a shelf life of 24 months through stablity study under the following conditions:

1. Long term stability study at 30±2°C for the claimed shelf life, and

2. Long term stability study at 40±2°C for the claimed shelf life which is supposed to provide useful information in case the product is stored under harsh conditions (like in your case)

I agree with the suggestions of contacting the supplier to ascertain their stability study results and whether they can mitigate the worry if the second part above showed that the product was still okay at that harsh temperature for the duration of the claimed shelf life. And you may need to test some heat sensitive vitamins such as Vitamin A, and of course checking oxidation by testing peroxide value and compare with the specification.


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