About Food Fortification

The Problem

Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of the human diet, but people worldwide do not get enough of the essential vitamins and minerals they need for healthy growth and development.

Diets low in vitamins and minerals can lead to poor health outcomes, serious birth defects of the brain and spine, and poor cognitive development. These irreversible damages adversely affect communities and the economies of entire nations. Children do not develop fully, adults cannot work productively, and excessive resources are spent to treat a variety of nutrition-related health problems.

An Integral Part of a Nutrition Strategy: Food Fortification

Food fortification is one of the most cost-effective, proven interventions that is readily available to address vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Food fortification adds essential vitamins and minerals to commonly consumed foods such as maize flour, edible oil, rice, salt, and wheat flour. Food fortification is a complementary intervention to preventing and treating vitamin and mineral deficiencies and should be considered as part of a broader nutrition strategy that includes other nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions.

Food fortification, as an intervention is unique, in that it spreads the burden of intervention and cost between the public and private sector and the consumer. While it is the private sector that fortifes the food, government can create a more enabling environment for industry, by passing and enforcing legislation making it a mandatory requirement (which creates an even playing field for industry) and by setting standards to ensure adequate and safe levels of nutrients are added. Moreover, when fortification is mandatory, no behavior change or even knowledge on the part of the consumer is required; they will benefit simply by continuing to eat the foods they normally buy. Voluntary fortification is undertaken at the discretion of the private sector, although preferably based on standards set by government. Mandatory fortification is more likely to have a public health benefit because there is no need for the consumer to actively identify and choose to purchase the fortified food.

Resources

We have provided a few important resources on food fortification below. More resources can be found on the FFI, IGN, and GAIN websites. If you have any questions on any of the materials on this page, or have suggestions for improvement, please get in touch.

Links to fortification resources are categorized in sections below. Select a section to reveal its resources.

Fortification Program Best Practices

Public Health Evidence for Fortification