Food Fortification Initiative (FFI)
Dear Readers of Miller Magazine,
Anaemia caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies is called nutritional anemia. Iron deficiency is the most well-known nutritional cause of anaemia, but it can also be triggered by folic acid, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamin B12 deficiencies. In my article, we will share that fortifying food with these nutrients will reduce the risk of nutritional anaemia.
If you have ever traveled more than two time zones away from home, you have likely experienced jet lag. It feels impossible to stay awake during the day, and routine tasks like walking up stairs can be exhausting.
That is how anaemia feels with one key exception — jet lag goes away after a few days. In contrast, a good night of sleep does not improve anaemia. Without medical treatment, anaemia continually limits children’s ability to learn, reduces workers’ productivity, and threatens pregnant women’s lives.
The latest World Health Organization (WHO) report on anaemia estimates that globally, 800 million women and children suffer from anaemia. Imagine 800 million people constantly feeling like they have jet lag. The figure is more than the combined populations of Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, and the United States.
Anaemia caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies is called nutritional anemia. Iron deficiency is the most well-known nutritional cause of anaemia, but it can also be triggered by folic acid, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamin B12 deficiencies.
Fortifying food with these nutrients will reduce the risk of nutritional anaemia. In Costa Rica for example, fortification led to decline in anaemia women (from 18.4% to 10.2%) and children (from 19.3% to 4.0%). In the United States, fortifying with folic acid has nearly eliminated folic acid deficiency anemia. A study of 12 other countries showed that each year of flour fortification is associated with a 2.4% decrease in anemia prevalence among non-pregnant women.
Countries that currently fortify wheat flour can take the following steps to ensure that the program maximizes its potential for preventing nutritional anaemia:
•Be sure a bioavailable form of iron is used at WHO recommended levels
•Fortify with multiple nutrients if their deficiency can lead to anaemia
•Ensure that flour millers follow best practices for internal monitoring
•Include fortification monitoring in food safety inspections of flour millers
•Train customs officials to monitor imports at point of entry if flour is imported
Countries that are not yet fortifying flour can organize a national multi-sector committee to begin planning the process.