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Open Access Food fortification: Safety and legislation

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The Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) International Conference on Nutrition (ICN), held in Rome in December 1992, recognized the widespread occurrence of micronutrient deficiencies, particularly in developing countries. The conference recognized food-based approaches as the most effective way to address existing micronutrient deficiencies. These approaches must include appropriate strategies to assure dietary diversification, improved food availability, food preservation, nutrition education, and food fortification.

The final report of the conference included strategies and actions for preventing and controlling specific micronutrient deficiencies. It was proposed to ensure and legislate the fortification of foods or water with necessary micronutrients, where possible, when existing supplies fail to provide adequate levels in the diet. Food fortification has been successfully used in both developed and developing countries as one strategy to address micronutrient deficiencies.

The primary purposes of food legislation are to protect the health of the consumer, protect the consumer from fraud, and facilitate trade. In the case of fortified foods, the target population must be protected from receiving either toxic or nutritionally ineffective levels of micronutrients. Legislation may be necessary to require adequate control over this fortification process by the food processors to ensure that levels of micronutrients are consistently within acceptable limits. Legislation may also be required to prohibit the addition of nutrients to commodities where it is nutritionally unnecessary or unsafe or where fortification may create an erroneous impression as to the nutritional value of the food.

Any legislation regarding food fortification should incorporate the standards, recommendations, and guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement) and the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (the TBT Agreement) have placed new importance on Codex standards, guidelines, codes, and recommendations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 1998

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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