Fortified food sign

Why you need fortified foods

Victoria Namutebi Wamala

Let’s start from the genesis of life;

As an expectant mother, Spina bifida is one of the ill health conditions you wouldn’t want your unborn baby to suffer from.
The birth defect occurs when the spine and spinal cord of the unborn baby don’t form properly due to the expectant mother’s insufficient intake of particular vitamins and minerals.
 
When born to the world, stunted growth, Anemia and malnutrition are other conditions you wouldn’t wish for your newly born as it grows into childhood, manhood or womanhood.
 
These public health problems that prevent many from reaching their physical and mental potential result from inadequate intake of key vitamins and minerals, causing deficiencies.
 
The UNICEF Global Progress Report indicates that, worldwide;
 
  •  The Iodine deficiency in pregnancy is causing almost 18 million babies a year to be born mentally impaired.
  • The Iron deficiency in the 6 – 24 month age group is impairing the mental development of approximately 40% to 60% of the developing world’s children.
  • The vitamin A deficiency is compromising the immune systems of approximately 40% of the developing world’s under-five, leading to deaths of approximately one million young children each year.
  • In adults, Iron deficiency is widespread and lowers the energies of nations and productivity of workforce in developing countries.The ill health conditions add a burden on individuals, health services, education systems and families caring for children who are disabled or mentally impaired.Much as some of these conditions are treatable, why not prevent them from the start?Remember the common adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’?Well, it is here that food fortification comes in play. It simply refers to adding vitamins and minerals to food items that are regularly consumed by the population.Food fortification improves the nutritional quality of food and provides a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.The Government of Uganda is committed to fighting malnutrition, Anemia, Spina bifida and other ill health conditions through fortifying foods like vegetable oil and fats, wheat and maize flour to enrich them with Vitamin A, Iron, Zinc, and Folic.The development started in 2005 and in 2011 government made fortification mandatory as per the Food and Drugs (food fortification) (Amendment) Regulations, 2011 SI. No.53 for maize flour, edible vegetable oil and wheat flour. However, only vegetable oil and wheat producers adhered to the regulation.The Ministry of Health together with Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) have thus stepped up efforts to see that maize millers too, adhere to the regulation by producing fortified flour and those in the baking industry purchase and use only fortified wheat flour for their products. This has been done through training baking sector players about food fortification.

    Consumers too have a role to play in the use of food fortification to fight against malnutrition, Anemia, Spina bifida and other ill health conditions in the country.

    All you’ve got to do is to consume delicacies made from fortified flour like the famous chapatti rolex or pastries like bread, doughnuts, cakes and other baked products.

    So the next time you go shopping flour for home use, look out for the Food Fortification Logo, ‘F’, on the packaging. You can also talk to your pastries store attendant or your rolex guy to find out if the flour used for your delicacy is fortified.

    The Food Fortification Regulation 2005 and Amendment 2011 is housed under the Ministry of Health.

     

    The writer is a Public Relations Officer at Uganda National bureau of Standards (UNBS).