CHINA – The China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA) is considering mandating mass nutritional fortification for various staple foods to boost public health and combat nutrient deficiencies.
Drawing reference from the World Food Program (WFP), almost 150.8 million people are malnourished with 9.4% of children stunted, 19.6% of the population anemic, and 25% overweight representing significant national and global burdens.
The CFSA has outlined a detailed proposal to mandate the nutritional fortification of a wide variety of staple foods in the country, including food groups such as dairy, rice, wheat flour, and vegetable oil.
However, the recommendation is open for members of the public and the industry to view the full documentation, find the process and submit any opinions before the implementation.
According to the experts, mass fortification will be enforced according to the type of nutrients and food group involved, for instance, for daily products vitamins A and D will be compulsory while for rice and wheat B vitamins and folic acid whereas soy sauce will contain iron.
The proposal also indicated that the practice will follow high-priority fortifications based on current nutrition data.
For instance, for vegetable oil, the expert suggests that Chinese consumers are more likely to be deficient in vitamins A and D so these will be made mandatory.
In addition to mandatory fortification, food firms will also be able to fortify staple products with other types of nutrients voluntarily.
“For each of the staple food groups, options will be made available for if more nutritional fortification is desired e.g. dairy milk will have the option of adding vitamins K, B, niacin, magnesium, etc.; vegetable oil can have vitamin E added to it, wheat can have vitamins A and D; rice can have niacin”
In addition to the major staple food groups mentioned above for mandatory fortification, CFSA also highlighted over 50 food types for which nutrient fortification is advised, although the fortification of these is not compulsory and is fully voluntary.
“There are many different types of [food and beverage] products out in the market, many of which can be fortified to benefit the public – these can range from snacks to processed fruits to bean-based products to candies, bread, biscuits, non-alcoholic beverages and many more,” the proposal indicated.
However, CFSA did not include minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus in the draft regulations cited as low risk of deficiency.
If fortification is implemented, however, the CFSA has said that it must be done in line with the nutrient guideline limits stipulated within the new regulations to ensure public health and safety.