FFI Newsletter June 2015
Malawi Passes Standards to Fortify Four Staple Foods
Now 83 countries mandate fortification of at least one industrially milled cereal grain
Fortification of wheat flour, maize flour, sugar, and oil were made mandatory in Malawi with the May 2015 publication of the national standards. The Bureau of Standard and Ministry of Health inspectors are charged with enforcing compliance among domestic producers and importers.
While the country’s standards were being revised due to technological and environmental changes, the National Fortification Alliance requested that fortification be included. The wheat flour standard notes that it will “protect consumers in a way that they get a safe and nutritionally rich product while at the same time assist the producers and importers to meet international market requirements.”
In Malawi, maize flour called ufa is a staple food for the population. It is commonly consumed in a cereal food product called nsima. The country has three large flour producers – Rab Processors for both wheat and maize, and Bakhresa and Capital Foods for wheat.
The wheat flour and maize flour standards both call for the inclusion of iron, zinc, vitamin A, and the following B vitamins: folic acid, vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. See more information about Malawi on the country profile.
Project Healthy Children (PHC) and UNICEF have provided technical assistance in Malawi while Irish Aid has provided financial support. Individuals from Malawi have participated in five Smarter Futures events since 2008, including advocacy meetings, workshops for quality assurance and quality control, and training for comparing costs and economic benefits of fortification. Smarter Futures is a partnership for Africa of the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, AkzoNobel, Helen Keller International, the Government of the Netherlands, and FFI. See more at www.smarterfutures.net
Now 83 countries have legislation to mandate fortification of at least one industrially milled cereal grain.
- 82 countries plus the Punjab province in Pakistan have legislation to fortify wheat flour.
- 13 countries have legislation to fortify maize products.
- 6 countries have legislation to fortify rice.
See more information and download updated maps on our Global Progress page.
Gujarat Millers Restart Wheat Flour Fortification
The wheat flour fortification program in India’s Gujarat State restarted in May 2015 with great fanfare from the media. The president of the Gujarat Roller Flour Millers Association was quoted as saying fortification was their “responsibility towards society.”
Millers in Gujarat fortified flour some years ago, but several complications led to halting the program for about three years. The restarting of the program will result in about 70,000 tons of wheat flour a month being fortified with 30 parts per million of iron and 1.5 parts per million of folic acid.
FFI staff met with the state’s roller flour millers’ association on 24 April 2015 and learned that several millers were fortifying flour again. A subsequent news report said the Gujarat Roller Flour Millers' Association relaunched flour fortification on 2 May 2015.
The story was reported in three television stations and 22 newspapers, such as the The Hindu Business Line.
Rice Fortification Resource Sharing Platform Being Developed
Of the 222 million metric tons of rice that is industrially milled each year, less than 1% is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. This is considered an untapped opportunity for food fortification, and multiple partners are working on ways to make rice fortification feasible. Consequently we are developing an online tool for partners to share resources. The platform is being designed with four components:
1. A database on fortified rice studies so that you can quickly refer to the literature and evidence on fortified rice.
2. A database on current fortified rice research so that you can see what others are doing, reduce duplicate efforts, and improve knowledge sharing.
3. A list of current fortified kernel producers to facilitate procurement.
4. Information on rice fortification activities, including sub-national programs and pilots, such as school feeding programs, or rice fortification pilots in welfare food distribution. This will help you see where current efforts exist, facilitate collaboration, or guide rice fortification strategies.
For questions or comments about the rice fortification resource sharing platform, please contact Becky Tsang, FFI Technical Officer for Asia, at email@example.com.
Currently six countries have mandatory rice fortification, and Brazil, Colombia and the Dominican Republic have large-scale rice fortification programs though it is not mandatory there.
How Does Anemia Make You Feel?
Being a zombie. Having jet lag all the time. Walking through quicksand. This is what it feels like to have anemia.
In May we began asking people who have had anemia to tell their stories through a “Faces of Anemia” campaign. Danielle B. Suchdev recalled that iron-deficiency anemia made her feel dizzy and faint when she experienced it in her second pregnancy. She was alarmed because these episodes struck while she was alone with no one near to help her.
Danielle was treated before her symptoms became life-threatening for her and her child. Left untreated, iron deficiency in pregnancy contributes to low birth-weight infants and maternal deaths.
Most women responded to the "Faces of Anemia" campaign with stories of debilitating fatigue. A former student and a former professor each remembered sleeping through classes. Normal daily activities such as running to catch a bus or climbing a flight of stairs became monumental tasks. Athletes had to drop out of their teams. Such fatigue among a population’s work force can severely reduce national productivity.
Peter Böhni heard about the “Faces of Anemia” campaign when he attended the FFI Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting in April. Peter is Managing Director EPFL Innovation Satellite and Head Corporate Technology Value Nutrition for Bühler AG.
After the EMT meeting, he began asking friends, colleagues, and neighbors if they had experienced anemia from a nutritional deficiency.
“I was astonished to learn that many of them had experienced anemia at some point, and this in Switzerland, a country of abundance,” Peter said. “It is time to give a face to anemia worldwide.”
The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people are anemic – more than 30% of the world’s population - including people in both developing and industrialized nations.
Iron deficiency is considered a primary cause of anemia, but anemia can also result from other nutritional deficiencies and infectious diseases such as malaria.
Fortifying staple foods is one way to reduce the risk of nutritional anemia. In Costa Rica, for example, fortification is credited with declines in anemia in women and children and improved iron status in children. Also in children, iron-deficiency anemia, which was 6.2% at baseline, could no longer be detected at the follow up assessment. In the United States, fortifying with folic acid has nearly eliminated folate-deficiency anemia.
Read the stories from the “Faces of Anemia” on Flickr. If you want to join the conversation and share your experience with anemia, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on Facebook or Twitter using #FacesOfAnemia.
Click here to see what you can do about nutritional anemia.
Global Summit Serves as Focal Point for #FutureFortified
#FutureFortified is a global campaign to reinvigorate interest, awareness and investment in fortification of staple foods and condiments with vitamins and minerals as an effective intervention delivering sustainable impact on nutrition security and public health. The Global Summit on Food Fortification is a major focal point of this global campaign and will be held 9-11 September 2015 in Arusha, Tanzania.
More than two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency - or hidden hunger - which reduces cognitive development, increases maternal and infant mortality and impacts health and productivity, which exacerbate poverty. By fortifying staple foods with vitamins and minerals, we can reduce micronutrient deficiency and make billions of people healthier, smarter and more productive. Food fortification is one of the least costly and most effective nutrition interventions to tackle hidden hunger and by scaling up food fortification we can improve the lives of billions.
The Global Summit has three objectives:
- Share achievements, challenges, and lessons learned
- Understand current evidence and its implications for improving programs
- Align the way forward on major tasks for large-scale food fortification
80 Individuals Trained In Fortification Quality Assurance/Quality Control
In an on-going effort to build capacity for African nations to maintain successful flour fortification programs, a Smarter Futures Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) training program was held in Harare, Zimbabwe, 11-14 May 2015.
The objective was to train the people responsible for the key components of national wheat flour and maize flour fortification programs. The 80 participants included flour millers and government food-control and nutrition staff from 10 countries:
The event was hosted by the Ministry of Health, Zimbabwe, with support from Smarter Futures, UNICEF, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and Project Healthy Children. Smarter Futures is a partnership for Africa of the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, AkzoNobel, Helen Keller International, the Government of the Netherlands, and the Food Fortification Initiative.
Previous Smarter Futures QA/QC regional workshops were held in Morocco in 2014, Tanzania in 2011 and Senegal in 2009. See all Smarter Futures events here.
A full meeting report from the workshop in Zimbabwe is being developed. In the meantime, see photographs from the workshop here.
Fortification Considered In South East Asia to Prevent Birth Defects
Fortification as a means of preventing neural tube defects was included in the Regional Programme Managers' Meeting on Prevention and Surveillance of Birth Defects, 14-16 April 2015, in New Delhi, India. The meeting was organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for South East Asia and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The event included 50 participants from eight countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand and Myanmar. Participating partners included the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), PATH, and the World Food Programme (WFP).
The regional WHO office has developed a communications document for the prevention of birth defects. It notes a two-thirds reduction in infant and child mortality in most countries in the region over the past two decades. Yet neonatal mortality still contributes to 55% of under-five mortality in the region. Mortality from birth defects has remained constant, resulting in birth defects assuming a greater proportional cause of neonatal and infant mortality.
With increasing consumption of wheat flour-based foods in many of these countries and high consumption of rice, fortifying wheat flour and rice with folic acid is likely to be a cost effective means of preventing a majority of neural tube defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. These birth defects of the spine are fatal or paralyzing, but most can be prevented if women have 400 micrograms of folic acid daily prior to conception and in the early weeks of pregnancy. See more here.
FFI Newsletter June 2015 Table of Contents
- Malawi Passes Standards to Fortify Four Staple Foods
- Gujarat Millers Restart Wheat Flour Fortification
- Rice Fortification Resource Sharing Platform Being Developed
- How Does Anemia Make You Feel?
- Global Summit Serves as Focal Point for #FutureFortified
- 80 Individuals Trained In Fortification Quality Assurance/Quality Control
- Fortification Considered In South East Asia to Prevent Birth Defects