Role of pre-fortified packaged foods in public health

Speaker: L. Allen Presented at: 2013 Hidden Hunger - From Assessment to Solutions


A wide variety of pre-fortified packaged foods is available in virtually every country. Most of this fortification is “voluntary”, i.e. the manufacturer freely chooses to fortify foods based on a desire to improve health and/or to increase sales, but sometimes such products are government-driven.  Common pre-fortified foods include cereals, complementary foods and lipid-based spreads (LNS) for feeding young children; breakfast cereals; liquid and dry milk; yogurt, beverages, juice and soy products. Cereals, complementary foods, LNS and dried milk products may contain a substantial number of added nutrients while other foods (e.g. orange juice) may only contain one.
The benefits of pre-fortified packed foods include: industry technology and distribution; packaging that protects the nutrients and reduces organoleptic deterioration; the micronutrients increase the food cost very little; they can contain nutrients difficult to supply through mass fortification; many need little or no preparation; the food may be very popular especially for children; nutrient density of high energy products can be improved; and the amount of micronutrients delivered can be controlled through appropriate portion size. However there are still constraints to the nutrients that can be added in packaged foods, and some risk of excessive intakes. This presentation will include general principles for the addition of nutrients to foods, examples of guidelines provided by some regulatory agencies, and a discussion of how such foods can be ideally formulated and used responsibly to support public health.