FFI Newsletter September 2013
Rwanda Approves Comprehensive Fortification Standards
In July the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry officially approved standards for national mandatory fortification of industrially milled wheat and maize flour, cooking oil, sugar and salt. Beginning in 2014, these staple foods produced in Rwanda and imported to Rwanda must contain specific amounts of key nutrients.
The standards follow the East African Community recommendations for fortification. These call for multiple nutrients - iron, folic acid, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and zinc - to be added in different combinations to each food product. Iodine will also be added to salt.
Fortification is designed to help the 10 million people in Rwanda fight diseases and increase physical and mental productivity. Including folic acid will also reduce the risk of children being born with neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
National leaders were instrumental in developing Rwanda’s fortification program. If you attended FFI training events in Africa in the last several years, you most likely met participants from Rwanda. The lead international partner working on fortification in Rwanda is Project Healthy Children.
In other news from Africa:
- The first fortification equipment for wheat and maize flour was delivered in Mozambique in September. A National Food Fortification Committee is working to ensure quality fortification programs in collaboration with country leaders and international partners. Read more...
- Improved iron and vitamin A status of women in South Africa reflects the impact of food fortification, according to results from the South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES-1). Read more...
Session to Prepare Vietnamese Millers for Fortification
A multi-partner policy paper found that iodizing salt and fortifying flour would be the “best investment for Viet Nam’s national economic development.” Surveys by milling experts show that the country’s 19 flour mills could easily begin fortification. Viet Nam’s Food Law of 2011 explicitly allows mandatory fortification to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
To help Vietnamese millers know what mandatory fortification could mean for their business and their customers, we are hosting a two-hour seminar on 8 October. The session will begin at 4:30 p.m. prior to the opening of the Southeast Asia International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) District Conference and Expo.
The meeting is open to industry leaders with operations in Viet Nam. Please confirm participation by e-mailing Annoek van den Wijngaart, our Associate Executive Officer in Asia, at email@example.com.
Workshop To Equip Advocates with Economic Methodology
A training event to equip national advocates to effectively make the economic case for wheat flour and maize meal fortification is scheduled for 10-14 December in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The program will include expert presentations, panel discussion, and sessions for national teams to work on their specific country topics.
The event will help participants establish the costs of health risks associated with vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as insufficient folic acid. They will estimate the population who could benefit from industrial grain fortification and project possible effectiveness of fortification in reducing vitamin and mineral deficiencies. They will then estimate fortification start-up and recurring costs before calculating a benefit: cost ratio.
The workshop is planned for countries in eastern and southern Africa that have started or are planning to start fortification. For more information, see the concept note or contact Anna Verster, FFI Senior Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ronald Afidra, FFI Africa Network Coordinator, at email@example.com.
More information on the economic benefits of fortification is on our website.
Popularity of Instant Noodles Presents Opportunity
Instant noodles have been called the “most successful industrial food every produced.” They were created in the late 1950s, and by 2012 more than 100 billion servings of instant noodles were sold.
Asian countries are the biggest market for instant noodles. In India alone, total annual consumption of instant noodles rose 195% between 2008 and 2012, according to the World Instant Noodle Association. Fortifying the flour used to make instant noodles presents a tremendous opportunity to add more nutrients to this popular food.
One concern about using fortified flour for instant noodles is whether fortification affects the noodles’ shelf life. We are working with multiple partners to evaluate the shelf life, appearance and any sensory changes to instant noodles due to fortification. Noodles made with flour fortified with multiple vitamins and a variety of iron compounds is being tested. The study is being conducted by the Food Innovation Research Centre (FIRC) of Singapore Polytechnic with funding from Mühlenchemie and the Micronutrient Initiative. The study is tentatively scheduled to be complete in March.
In addition, instant noodles were among the foods evaluated in a 2011 study of whether fortification affected the food’s characteristics. The study found no unacceptable differences in texture or other sensory qualities. The overall noodle quality was the same as noodles made with unfortified flour.
Good News Regarding Folic Acid
105 healthy babies a day and near elimination of folate deficiency anemia
In 2008 researchers estimated that 22,000 neural tube birth defects were prevented worldwide due to flour being fortified with folic acid. The updated estimate for 2012 is that 38,417 neural tube birth defects are prevented where flour is fortified with folic acid. The 2012 estimate represents an average of 105 healthy babies a day.
The authors based the calculation on the assumption that 75% of all neural tube defects could be prevented if women had enough folic acid prior to conception and in the early days of pregnancy. While flour fortification progress is being made, the authors noted that the pace is slow. Their calculations are that only 15% of the birth defects that could be prevented with adequate amounts of folic acid are actually being prevented.
Generally, 400 micrograms of folic acid daily is recommended for women who might become pregnant. The figures above reflect that recommendation. Read more…
In a separate study, researchers also found that fortifying flour with folic acid in the United States has nearly eliminated folate-deficiency anemia among older adults. The study used a random sample of 1546 adults aged 50 and older. After fortification, only one person among the group had folate-deficiency anemia.
The authors concluded that “after mandatory folic acid fortification, the prevalence of folate-deficiency anemia is nearly nonexistent” in the community that was evaluated. Read more…
Also, follow this link to hear Dr. Godfrey Oakley discuss this as a "public health scientific miracle."
American Actor Joins Nigerian Advocates
The day after being in Lagos to host Nigeria’s Miss Earth pageant, American actor Boris Kodjoe joined Nigerian fortification advocates on a tour of Lagos University Teaching Hospital. Boris and his wife, actress Nicole Ari Parker, have a daughter with spina bifida. They have become advocates for quality care for children with spina bifida and for prevention efforts.
Dr Femi Bankole, a neurosurgeon at the hospital, coordinated the facility tour on 23 September, and Lawal R. Olubunmi, president of the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Care Foundation of Nigeria, described efforts to prevent spina bifida in Nigeria.
Nigeria has had legislation to fortify wheat flour with iron and vitamin A for more than a decade. The law was amended in 2010 to include folic acid. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) completed a compliance study, however, that revealed that the law is not consistently implementated and enforced.
Event participants represented 11 partner groups in Nigeria. They agreed to work together to continue advocacy efforts for implementation and quality assurance of Nigeria’s wheat flour fortification program. As Lawal Olubunmi said, “We are all leaders who are ready to take our people from where they are to where they ought to be.”
See more photos from the event.
Schedule Appointments with FFI Staff at Upcoming Events
Our staff will participate in multiple conferences in the next few months. If you are attending the same event and would like to meet with the staff to discuss fortification in your country, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will schedule an appointment at your convenience to speak with the staff representative.
(El personal de la Iniciativa para la Fortificación de Harina estará participando en varias conferencias en los próximos meses. Si estará atendiendo el mismo evento y quisiera conversar sobre la fortificación en su país con nuestro personal, favor envíe un correo a email@example.com y con gusto coordinaremos una cita.)
- International Association of Operative Millers Southeast Asia – Subrata Dutta and Annoek van den Vijngaart
- Xv Congreso Colombiano De Nutrición Y Dietética - Helena Pachón
- Congreso Internacional de Nutrición Dr. José María Bengoa - Helena Pachón
- 18th Milling Day, 24 October, Novi Sad hotel in Novi Sad, Serbia - Scott Montgomery and Becky Handforth
- International Association of Operative Millers Mideast Africa – Ronald Afidra and Quentin Johnson
- Consultation on the Regional Action Plan to Reduce the Double Burden of Malnutrition in the Western Pacific Region, 19-21 November in Manila, Philippines – Karen Codling and Annoek van den Wijngaart
Periodic Update September 2013 Table of Contents
- Rwanda Approves Comprehensive Fortification Standards
- Session to Prepare Vietnamese Millers for Fortification
- Workshop To Equip Advocates with Economic Methodology
- Popularity of Instant Noodles Presents Opportunity
- Good News Regarding Folic Acid
- American Actor Joins Nigerian Advocates
- Schedule Appointments with FFI Staff at Upcoming Events
Auditorio Ciudad Banesco, Monte Bello
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania