Food Fortification

Rationale
Food fortification is an important strategy to address micronutrient gaps in the diet, particularly in rapidly growing urban populations that depend upon industrially processed foods. One way of preventing micronutrient malnutrition is to ensure consumption of a balanced diet that is adequate in every nutrient. This is far from being achievable everywhere since it requires universal access to adequate food and appropriate dietary habits. Food fortification can deliver vitamins and minerals to large segments of the population without requiring changes in eating practices.

Challenge

Barriers to food fortification include the need to recognize the different design, regulation, and promotion requirements for three types of fortification: 1) mass fortification of regularly consumed foods by the general public, 2) targeted fortification for specific population subgroups such as older infants and young children, and 3) market-driven fortification by food manufacturers to increase sales. Other challenges include insufficient capacity and resources to support governmental enforcement of national regulations, inadequate monitoring and evaluation of food fortification programs, and targeting the most vulnerable populations with a quality, affordable product.

A2Z Response
A2Z is building the capacity of governments, industry staff, and regional institutions in Uganda, the Philippines, Cambodia, the West Bank, and through partners in Latin America to:

  • Select suitable food vehicles and determine the micronutrient levels to ensure that fortified products meet nutritional requirements
  • Develop regional and national standards for various food vehicles
  • Support routine use of food quality control mechanisms in factories and by food inspection agents of governmental institutions
  • Design and test strategies for certification of micronutrient mixes and premixes
  • Build capacity to cost programs
  • Conduct practical food consumption surveys that help in the design and monitoring of the programs
  • Improve the use of monitoring and evaluation data for improving program coverage and effectiveness

Efforts are underway at global, regional, and country levels to address micronutrient deficiencies through increased access to quality fortified foods. At the global level, A2Z is collaborating with partners such as the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), CDC/IMMPACT, UNICEF, and PAHO to enhance the coverage and effectiveness of food fortification programs.

At the regional level, A2Z is involved in food fortification initiatives in East, Central, and Southern Africa and in Central America. The experience and tools from these regions will contribute to similar efforts planned for West Africa and Southeast Asia.

At the country level, A2Z is working closely with the government of Uganda to implement a national program to fortify oil with vitamin A and to establish a food control and inspection system. A2Z is also supporting the government of the Philippines to implement its mandatory policy to fortify common staples. Technical assistance in food fortification has been provided in Chile, Cambodia, Guatemala, Honduras, Ukraine, and the West Bank.

Visit the Resources section of the website for more information on food fortification.