What is food fortification and food enrichment? Are they different terms or do they mean the same thing? Well, let’s dive into a brief explanation.
What is Food Fortification?
Food fortification is the addition of nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) not originally present or present in minute quantities to a food material in order to improve the nutritional quality of the food. For example, addition of vitamin D to milk.
What is Food Enrichment?
Food enrichment on the other hand means adding back nutrients originally present in a food product but lost during processing operations. For example, addition of B vitamins lost during processing of whole grains like wheat to flour.
It is important to note that some food products are used by national or food regulatory bodies as mandatory vehicles for delivery of important nutrients to food consumers in order to address targeted nutritional deficiencies in a locality or country. For instance, it is a mandatory regulatory requirement for table salt processing companies in Nigeria that table salt is fortified with iodine to mitigate iodine deficiency disorder. This fortification has been mandated by law since 1993.
Additionally, it is a regulatory requirement for food processing and manufacturing companies in Nigeria that refined vegetable oil, sugar, wheat, semolina and corn flour is fortified with vitamin A (depicted with an eye logo) to mitigate vitamin A deficiency. This fortification has been mandated by law since 2022.
Generally, the aim of food fortification and enrichment is to improve nutritional quality. A careful look at the front-of-pack label of an enriched or fortified food will show, “fortified with…”, “…fortified”, “enriched with…” or something similar. This is another reason why you should start reading your food labels if you haven’t been doing so.
Written by: Chidinma Ezinne Ochulor.
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