Food fortification

Food fortification

Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food. It can be purely a commercial choice to provide extra nutrients in a food, or sometimes it is a public health policy which aims to reduce numbers of people with dietary deficiencies in a population.

Diets that lack variety can be deficient in certain nutrients. Sometimes the staple foods of a region can lack particular nutrients, due to the soil of a region, or because of the inherent inadequacy of the diet. Addition of micronutrients to staples and condiments can prevent large-scale deficiency diseases in these cases.[1]

While it is true that both fortification and enrichment refer to the addition of nutrients to food, the true definitions do slightly vary. As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), fortification refers to "the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, ie. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food irrespective of whether the nutrients were originally in the food before processing or not, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health," whereas enrichment is defined as "synonymous with fortification and refers to the addition of micronutrients to a food which are lost during processing.[2]

Food fortification was identified as the second strategy of four by the WHO and FAO to begin decreasing the incidence of nutrient deficiencies at the global level.[2]

As outlined by the FAO, the most common fortified foods are:

  • Cereals and cereal based products
  • Milk and Milk products
  • Fats and oils
  • Accessory food items
  • Tea and other beverages
  • Infant formulas[3]


Types of Food Fortification

The 4 main methods of food fortification (named as to indicate the procedure that is used in order to fortify the food):

  1. Biofortification (ie. creating new crops using genetically modified breeding techniques)
  2. Microbial biofortification and synthetic biology (ie. addition of probiotic bacteria to foods)
  3. Commercial and industrial fortification (ie. flour, rice, oils (common cooking foods))
  4. Home fortification (ie. vitamin D drops)[4]


The WHO and FAO, among many other nationally recognized organizations, have recognized that there are over 2 billion people worldwide who suffer from a variety of micronutrient deficiencies. In 1992, 159 countries pledged at the FAO/WHO International Conference on Nutrition to make efforts to help combat these issues of micronutrient deficiencies, highlighting the importance of decreasing the number of those with iodine, vitamin A, and iron deficiencies.[2] A significant statistic that led to these efforts was the discovery that approximately 1 in 3 people worldwide were at risk for either an iodine, vitamin A, or iron deficiency. Although it is recognized that food fortification alone will not combat this deficiency, it is a step towards reducing the prevalence of these deficiencies and there associated health conditions[5]

In Canada, The Food and Drug Regulations have outlined specific criterion which justifies food fortification:

  1. To replace nutrients which were lost during manufacturing of the product (ie. the manufacturing of flour[6])
  2. To act as a public health intervention
  3. To ensure the nutritional equivalence of substitute foods (ie. to make butter and margarine similar in content, soy milk and cow's milk, etc.)
  4. To ensure the appropriate vitamin and mineral nutrient composition of foods for special dietary purposes (ie. Boost, gluten-free products, low sodium, or any other products specifically designed for special dietary requirements from an individual).[7]

There are also several advantages to approaching nutrient deficiencies among populations via food fortification as opposed to other methods. These may include, but are not limited to: treating a population without specific dietary interventions therefore not requiring a change in dietary patterns, continuous delivery of the nutrient, does not require individual compliance, and potential to maintain nutrient stores more efficiently if consumed on a regular basis.[4]


Several organizations such as the WHO, FAO, Health Canada, and the Nestlé Research Center acknowledge that there are limitations to food fortification. Within the discussion of nutrient deficiencies the topic of nutrient toxicities can also be immediately questioned. Fortification of nutrients in foods may deliver toxic amounts of nutrients to an individual and also cause its associated side effects. As seen with the case of fluoride toxicity below, the result can be irreversible staining to the teeth. Although this may be a minor toxic effect to health, there are several that are more severe.[8]

The WHO states that limitations to food fortification may include human rights issues indicating that consumers has the right to choose if they want fortified products or not, potential for insufficient demand of the fortified product, increased production costs that may lead increase retail costs, and the potential that the fortified products will still not be a solution to nutrient deficiencies amongst low income populations who may not be able to afford the new product and children who may not be able to consume adequate amounts.[2]

Food safety worries led to legislation in Denmark in 2004 restricting foods fortified with extra vitamins or minerals. Products banned include: Rice Crispies, Shreddies, Horlicks, Ovaltine and Marmite.[9]

Danes said [Kelloggs] Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Special K wanted to include "toxic" doses which, if eaten regularly, could damage children's livers and kidneys and harm foetuses in pregnant women.[10]

Food supplements

There are several main groups of food supplements:

Examples of fortified foods

Many foods and beverages worldwide have been fortified, whether a voluntary action by the product developers or by law. Although some may view these additions as strategic marketing schemes to sell their product, there is a lot of work that must go into a product before simply fortifying it. In order to fortify a product, it must first be proven that the addition of this vitamin or mineral is beneficial to health, safe, and an effective method of delivery. The addition must also abide by all food and labeling regulations and support nutritional rationale. From a food developer's point of view, they also need to consider the costs associated with this new product and whether or not there will be a market to support the change.[11]

Examples of foods and beverages that have been fortified and shown to have positive health effects:

Iodized Salt

"Iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is the single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation. Severe deficiencies cause cretinism, stillbirth and miscarriage. But even mild deficiency can significantly affect the learning ability of populations........ Today over 1 billion people in the world suffer from iodine deficiency, and 38 million babies born every year are not protected from brain damage due to IDD."

                    -- Kul Gautam, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, October 2007[12]

Iodised salt has been used in the United States since before World War II. It was discovered in 1821 that goiters could be treated by the use of iodized salts. However, it was not until 1916 that the use of iodized salts could be tested in a research trial as a preventative measure against goiters. By 1924, it became readily available in the US.[13]

Currently in Canada and the US, the RDA for iodine is as low as 90mcg/day for children (4-8 years) and as high as 290mcg/day for breast-feeding mothers.[14]

Diseases that are associated with an iodine deficiency include: mental retardation, hypothyroidism, and goiter. There is also a risk of various other growth and developmental abnormalities.[14]

Folic Acid

Folic acid (also known as folate) functions in reducing blood homosysteine levels, forming red blood cells, proper growth and division of cells, and preventing neural tube defects (NTDs).[15]

In many industrialized countries, the addition of folic acid to flour has prevented a significant number of NTDs in infants. Two common types of NTDs, spina bifida and anencephaly, affect approximately 2500-3000 infants born in the US annually. Research trials have shown the ability to reduce the incidence of NTDs by supplementing pregnant mothers with folic acid by 72% [16].

The RDA for folic acid ranges from as low as 150μg/day for children aged 1-3 years old, to 400μg/day for males and females over the age of 19, and 600μg/day during pregnancy.[17]

Diseases associated with folic acid deficiency include: megaloblastic or macrocytic anemia, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and NTDs in infants.[18]


Niacin has been added to bread in the USA since 1938 (when voluntary addition started), a programme which substantially reduced the incidence of pellagra.[19] As early as 1755, pellegra was recognized by doctors as being a niacin deficiency disease. Although not officially receiving its name of pellegra until 1771.[20] Pellagra was seen amongst poor families who used corn as their main dietary staple. Although corn itself does contain niacin, it is not a bioavailable form and therefore was not contributing to the overall intake of niacin.[21] Although pellegra can still be seen in developing countries, food fortification of this niacin played a huge role in eliminating the prevalence of the disease.[22]

The RDA for niacin is 2mg NE(niacin equivalents)/day (AI) for infants aged 0-6 months, 16mg NE/day for males, and 14mg NE/day for females who are over the age of 19.[21]

Diseases associated with niacin deficiency include: Pellegra which consisted of signs and symptoms called the 3D's-"Dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea. Others may include vascular or gastrointestinal diseases.[20]

Common diseases which present a high frequency of niacin deficiency: alcoholism, anorexia nervosa, HIV infection, gastrectomy, malabsorptive disorders, certain cancers and their associated treatments.[20]

Vitamin D

Since Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin it cannot be added to a wide variety of foods. Foods that it is commonly added to are margarine, vegetable oils and dairy products.[23] During the late 1800's, after the discovery of curing conditions of scurvy and beriberi had occurred, researchers were aiming to see if the disease, later known as rickets, could also be cured by food. Their results showed that sunlight exposure and cod liver oil were the cure. It was not until the 1930s that vitamin D was actually linked to curing rickets.[24] This discovery led to the fortification of common foods such as milk, margarine, and breakfast cereals. This took the astonishing statistics of approximately 80-90% of children showing varying degrees of bone deformations due to vitamin D deficiency to being a very rare condition.[25]

Risk factors for vitamin D deficiencies include:

  • Infants who are exclusively or partially breast fed
  • Dark skinned people
  • People who live in colder climates and have little sun exposure
  • Elderly
  • Those who cover all parts of their skin while outdoors
  • Liberal use of SPF sunscreens
  • Fat malabsorption syndromes
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Obesity [26]

The current RDA for infants aged 0-6 months is 25mcg's (1000 International Units (IU)/day and for adults over 19 years of age it is 100mcg's (4000IU)/day.[26]

Diseases associated with a vitamin D deficiency include rickets, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer (breast, prostate, colon and ovaries). It has also been associated with increased risks for fractures, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune and infectious diseases, asthma and other wheezing disorders, myocardial infarction, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease.[25]


Although fluoride is required in very small doses per day and not considered an essential mineral, it is seen as crucial in prevention of tooth decay and maintaining adequate dental health.[27] In the mid 1900's it was discovered that towns with a high level of fluoride in their water supply was causing the residents' teeth to have both brown spotting and a strange resistance to dental caries. This led to the fortification of water supplies with fluoride with safe amounts to retain the properties of resistance to dental caries but avoid the staining cause by fluorosis (a condition caused by a fluoride toxicity).[28]

The tolerable upper intake level (UL) set for fluoride ranges from 0.7mg/day for infants aged 0-6 months and 10mg/day for adults over the age of 19.

Conditions commonly associated with fluoride deficiency are dental caries and osteoporosis.[27]


Some other examples of fortified foods:

  • Calcium is frequently added to fruit juices, carbonated beverages and rice.[29]
  • White rice is frequently enriched to replace lost nutrients during milling or adding extras in.[30]
  • "Golden rice" is a variety of rice which has been genetically modified to produce beta carotene.[31]
  • Amylase rich flour is utilized for food making to increase dietary consumption.[32]

Fortification for body building

Despite having some scientific basis, but with controversial ethics, is the science of using foods and food supplements to achieve a defined health goal. A common example of this use of food supplements is the extent to which body builders will use amino acid mixtures, vitamins and phytochemicals to enhance natural hormone production, increase muscle and reduce fat. The literature is not concrete on an appropriate method for use of fortification for body builders and therefore may not be recommended due to safety concerns.[33]

Fortification for medical treatment

There is interest in the use of food supplements in established medical conditions. This nutritional supplementation using foods as medicine (nutraceuticals) has been effectively used in treating disorders affecting the immune system up to and including cancers.[34] This goes beyond the definition of "food supplement", but should be included for the sake of completeness.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Guidelines on food fortification with micronutrients. 2006 [cited on 2011 Oct 30].
  3. ^ Micronutrient Fortification of Food: Technology and Quality Control
  4. ^ a b Liyanage, C.; Hettiarachchi, M. (2011). "Food fortification". Ceylon Medical Journal 56: 124-127. doi:10.4038/cmj.v56i3.3607. 
  5. ^ Darnton-Hill, E. (1998). Overview: Rationale and elements of a successful food-fortification programme. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 19(2):92-100
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Food Safety Network. Food Fortification. 2011 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  9. ^ Bruno Waterfield (24 May 2011). "Marmite made illegal in Denmark". The Telegraph. 
  10. ^ James Meikle and Luke Harding (12 August 2004). "Denmark bans Kellogg's vitamins". The Guardian. 
  11. ^[dead link]
  12. ^ Salt Institute. Iodized Salt. 2011 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  13. ^ History of Iodized Salt. ICCID. 2011 [cited 2011 Oct 30] Available from:
  14. ^ a b Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health. Micronutrient Information Center. 2003 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  15. ^ The Ohio State University Extension. Extension Fact Sheet. 2004 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  16. ^ Honein MA, Paulozzi LJ, Mathews TJ, Erickson JD, Wong LY (2001). "Impact of folic acid fortification of the US food supply on the occurrence of neural tube defects". JAMA 285 (23): 2981–6. doi:10.1001/jama.285.23.2981. PMID 11410096. 
  17. ^ Office of Dietary Supplements National Institute of Health. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Folate. [cited 2011 Oct 30] Available from:
  18. ^ Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health. Micronutrient Information Center. 2002 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  19. ^ Park YK, Sempos CT, Barton CN, Vanderveen JE, Yetley EA (2000). "Effectiveness of food fortification in the United States: the case of pellagra". American journal of public health 90 (5): 727–38. doi:10.2105/AJPH.90.5.727. PMC 1446222. PMID 10800421. 
  20. ^ a b c Prousky, J., Millman, C.G., Kirkland, J.B. Pharmacologic Use of Niacin. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2001; 16(2): 91-101.
  21. ^ a b Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health. Micronutrient Information Center. 2002 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  22. ^ Prousky, J., Millman, C.G., Kirkland, J.B. Pharmacologic Use of Niacin. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2001; 16(2): 91-101.
  23. ^ FAO Agricultural and Consumer Protection. Food Fortification Technology. 1996 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  24. ^ Authors unknown. A dose of vitamin D history. Nature Structural Biology. 2002; 9(2):77.
  25. ^ a b Holick, M.F. The Vitamin D Deficiency Pandemic: a Forgotten Hormone Important for Health. Health Reviews. 2010; 32: 267-283.
  26. ^ a b Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health. Micronutrient Information Center. 2004 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  27. ^ a b Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health. Micronutrient Information Center. 2001 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  28. ^ National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The Story of Fluoridation. 2011 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  29. ^ Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health. Micronutrient Information Center. 2003 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  30. ^ USA Rice Federation. Brown and White Rice FAQ's. 2006 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:
  31. ^ Dawe,D. Crop Case Study: GMO Golden Rice in Asia with Enhanced Vitamin A Benefits for Consumers. The Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management and Economics. 2007; 10(3): 154-160.
  32. ^ Hossain, M.I., Wahed, M.A., Ahmed, S. Increased food intake after the addition of amylase-rich flour to supplementary food for malnourished children in rural communities of Bangladesh. Food Nutr Bull. 2005; 26(4):323-9.
  33. ^ Chromiak, J.A., Antonio, J. Use of amino acids as growth hormone-releasing agents by athletes. Nutrition. 2002; 18(7-8): 657-661
  34. ^ Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. 2011 [cited 2011 Oct 30]. Available from:

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Food processing — is the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption by humans or animals either in the home or by the food processing industry. Food processing typically takes… …   Wikipedia

  • Food additive — Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste and appearance. Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or …   Wikipedia

  • Food engineering — Bread factory in Germany Food engineering is a multidisciplinary field of applied physical sciences which combines science, microbiology, and engineering education for food and related industries. Food engineering includes, but is not limited to …   Wikipedia

  • Food supplements — merge|Dietary supplement|Talk:Food supplements#Merger proposal|date=December 2007 A food supplement is, typically, a nutrient added to a foodstuff which would otherwise not contain that nutrient. In general, the term is restricted to those… …   Wikipedia

  • Fortification (disambiguation) — A fortification is a military construction or building designed for defense in warfare.Fortification may also refer to:* Food fortification, the public health policy of adding Micronutrients to foodstuffs * Fortification, New Zealand * Wine… …   Wikipedia

  • Food preservation — Canadian World War I poster encouraging people to preserve food for the winter …   Wikipedia

  • food additive — additive (def. 4). * * * ▪ food processing Introduction       any of various chemical substances added to foods to produce specific desirable effects. Additives such as salt, spices, and sulfites have been used since ancient times to preserve… …   Universalium

  • fortification — fortify ► VERB (fortifies, fortified) 1) provide with defensive works as protection against attack. 2) invigorate or encourage. 3) add spirits to (wine) to make port, sherry, etc. 4) increase the nutritive value of (food) by adding vitamins.… …   English terms dictionary

  • Functional food — is a food where a new ingredient(s) (or more of an existing ingredient) has been added to a food and the new product has a new function (often one related to health promotion or disease prevention).[1] The general category of functional foods… …   Wikipedia

  • Medieval fortification — This article is part of the series on: Medieval History By Region Medieval Armenia Medieval Bosnia Medieval England Bulgarian Empire Byzantine Empire …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”