The overall health of every person on this planet depends on the food he or she eats throughout their life. Even though different cultures eat different foods, one thing is evident – dietary patterns today aren’t as healthy as they should be. Starting from hunger in Africa to unhealthy Western diet which deprives an individual of all nutrients necessary for proper body functioning, it’s quite clear that something has to be done about ever-increasing nutritional needs and poor quality of diet. Food fortification poses as one of the easiest and most affordable manners of meeting these requirements and throughout this article you’re going to learn more about this subject.
What is food Fortification?
Food fortification is defined as a process of adding micronutrients to foods deliberately. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the interest in food fortification increased dramatically over the last few years. One of the main reasons for this interest is the understanding that micronutrient malnutrition contributes substantially to the global burden of the disease and it’s responsible for a variety of non-specific physiological impairments leading to decreased resistance to infections, metabolic disorders, and delayed or impaired physical or psychomotor development. Another reason for the greater interest is that micronutrient malnutrition isn’t only associated with developing countries. Although these deficiencies are more prevalent in Africa and other disadvantaged populations, they also represent a public health concern in some industrialized countries. General population consumes higher amounts of weight gain foods such as processed, refined, sugary, and trans-fat rich items that have no nutritional value. That’s why vitamin and mineral deficiencies are on the rise in developed countries.
The process refers to the addition of vital vitamins and minerals e.g. folic acid, iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A, etc. to staple foods in a bid to improve their nutritional content and address a massive nutritional gap in a population. It’s a safe and effective method that has been used since the 1920s.
Food fortification can be a purely commercial move to add more nutrients into food, but lately, it is a strategy considered by governments in different countries. For example, the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) drafted guidelines for food fortification that includes rice, milk, wheat flour, salt, and edible oil. Let’s not forget that citizens of the United States and Canada depend on food fortification to get sufficient amount of much-needed Vitamin D, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Does Fortification affect the Quality of Food?
Food fortification is dubbed as an effective strategy to meet nutritional needs across different aspects of society. The primary aim of this process is to help general population, particularly children, pregnant women, elderly, and the underprivileged to consume the recommended amount of much-needed nutrients to stay healthy and avoid vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Fortification doesn’t impair the quality of food, and it doesn’t change its taste. The method only improves the nutritional content of some particular food item. This strategy is socio-culturally acceptable and doesn’t alter food characteristics. The main advantage of food fortification is that it produces nutritional benefits in a shorter period of time, thus allowing more people to best diet plan in a bid to decrease the risk of various diseases including tuberculosis and anemia.
Despite numerous benefits and practical attitude of this strategy, it doesn’t mean everything will change instantly. A paper from the Food and Nutrition Bulletin explained that although food fortification provides a convenient, affordable, and efficient mechanism to enhance the nutrition status of large segments of society, the general success of the method hasn’t met the expectations of private-sector companies and public-health professionals. The author of the paper, Griffiths M. of the Manoff Group, elaborates that success of food fortification is dictated by the ability of public health professionals to learn from private food companies’ marketing efforts. Naturally, food companies should learn from public health sector about how to reach a population that needs food fortification products the most.
Placing fortified products on the market isn’t enough because this action doesn’t necessarily guarantee the target population will, in fact, buy them. The solution that could contribute to the success of this process is carefully crafted and strategically implemented behavior-change communication that would both educate and motivate consumers to purchase and use these products.
Project Healthy Childrenreports that every $1 spent on fortification of food results in $9 benefits to the economy. It is necessary to inform different social groups and educate them about food fortification to raise awareness of all the advantages of this method.
Food fortification defines a process wherein micronutrients are added to boost the nutritional value of the food. The method is effective, easy to implement, and has the potential to show benefits in a short timeframe. It’s suitable for both developing countries as well as developed nations where citizens are deficient in various vitamins and minerals due to an unhealthy diet. Fortification would help people from different spheres of society to meet nutritional needs, improve health, and reduce the risk of viruses and severe diseases.