FFI History of Progress Through Partnerships

Regional strategies led to widespread wheat flour fortification in the Middle East and the Americas before 2002, but no global body focused on this cost-effective strategy at the time. The first public meeting to organize global efforts to fortify flour was a Policy Planning Forum on 24 October 2002 in Mauritius, and that event launched FFI.

We were a public-private partnership even at that formative stage. The forum was initiated by Glen Maberly, then a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. It was co-hosted by the Nutrition International (formerly the Micronutrient Initiative) based in Canada, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The forum was held in conjunction with a regional meeting of the Association of Operative Millers, later renamed the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM).

By 2003, the global movement was called the Flour Fortification Initiative (FFI). In time, industrially milled maize flour and rice were added to the work, and in 2014, the name was changed to the Food Fortification Initiative. Rice is generally not eaten as flour and was not reflected in the original name.Wheat, maize, and rice are the most commonly consumed grains worldwide, and the fortification of each represents tremendous opportunities to improve global health.

Countries determine the type and quantity of nutrients to include in fortification based on their population's typical eating patterns and specific health concerns. International meetings in 2004 and 2008 led to global guidelines to help countries make these decisions for wheat and maize flour. The World Health Organization later published separate guidelines for maize flour and rice fortification. Proposed nutrients and nutrient levels for rice fortification are here.

In 2017, we celebrated our 15th anniversary by recognizing 15 grain fortification champions from around the world.

Now FFI helps country leaders promote, plan, implement, and monitor fortification of industrially milled wheat flour, maize flour, and rice. FFI is the only global group that focuses exclusively on these three commonly consumed grains. For sustainability, FFI helps countries develop programs that do not rely on outside funding. Key national leaders are government officials, industry managers, civic sector organizers, and staff of non-governmental organizations.

For More information:

2003 IAOM Resolution

FFI Mission, Vision and Values

Photos

History of Food Fortification and Global Experience of Large Scale Food Fortification

Top Photo: Pictured at a 2003 IOAM meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, are, from left, M.G. Venkatesh Mannar, then President of the Micronutrient Initiative (now Nutrition International); Abe Parvanta, then leader of the micronutrient team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Tim Burleigh, FFI Industry Liaison; and Essa Al-Ghurair, President of Al-Ghurair Foods in Dubai, who was an early champion of flour fortification.

“This meeting could represent a watershed point where we take stock of the experience gained and make a quantum jump in fortification through a global campaign.”

M.G. Venkatesh Mannar, then President of the Micronutrient Initiative (MI; now Nutrition International), during a 2002 Policy Planning Forum.

Hear the full address

In 2002, many flour millers hadn't thought about what iron deficiency had to do with somebody who makes and sells flour. Now millers see fortification as an investment in their customers and their countries.

- Tim Burleigh, FFI's first industry liaison

"The notion of a public-private partnership just wasn’t thought about at the time (2002). Flour fortification had always been a cost-effective strategy, it is relatively easy to do at modern mills, and it potentially has a huge population impact. But we needed a global body to push flour fortification to the top of a country’s agenda."

William Dietz, former Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Physical Activity and Obesity.

Listen to the comments he made during a 2002 Policy Planning Forum.