Fortification as a Panacea for Malnutrition
Malnutrition is currently considered a public health problem. A new form of it- called micronutrient deficiency or hidden hunger- escapes early detection and thus poses a greater challenge. The debilitating effects of this problem on the health and economic fortunes of nations have been widely acknowledged. Thus, worldwide, policies and programmes are being initiated to tackle all forms of malnutrition. These policies and programmes rest upon a scientifically proven technique known as food fortification.
Food fortification has been extensively used to correct demonstrated micronutrient deficiencies of public health importance. For example, the fortification of flour and other cereal products with folic acid in the United States led to significant reduction in the annual record of deaths associated with neural tube defects (NTDs) from 1,200 to 840. The effectiveness of food fortification is however, determined by certain factors which include but not limited to the bioavailability of fortifying agent, cost, storage period and type of food vehicle used.
For fortification programmes to achieve the desired result, processors need to understand these factors and how they interact. It is also important to know the extent of nutrient loss incurred when foods are processed under normal conditionsas well as the method of fortification that is best for a particular product. This article highlights the rationale, methods and benefits of food fortification with a view to enabling consumers and processors make informed choices of food and food ingredients.
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2018) Neural tube defects. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neural_tube_defect [accessed: 14th September 2018]