CEO and Partner at the Modern Flour Mills and Macaroni Factories, Jordan
12 December 2017
FFI: What inspired you to become involved with food fortification?
Tsikhlaki: The various presentations of FFI during the IAOM (International Association of Operative Millers) conferences highlighted how a simple addition of micronutrients such as folic acid can prevent spinal cord injuries and drastically improve the lives of many children. Also, the fact that fortifying flour with iron improves the cognitive capability of children which allows them to become more productive citizens and have a positive impact to their society.
FFI: How is your country prioritizing fortification?
Tsikhlakis: The Kingdom of Jordan through the Ministry of Health is giving full priority to food fortification. I believe Jordan played a leading and exemplary roll in food fortification through the implementation of two successful programs: mandatory salt iodization in 1996 and mandatory nationwide flour fortification in 2002.
The nationwide flour fortification program was done with collaboration between the flour mills and the Ministry of Health. To facilitate the implementation of the program, the Kingdom of Jordan through the Ministry of Health took upon its task to fully cover the cost of the vitamin and mineral premix and to distribute it free of charge to all the mills in Jordan. I have to outline here that the vitamin premix is one of the most complete vitamin fortifications as it includes iron, folic acid, vitamin B complex, vtamin A, and vitamin D, and zinc.
FFI: What other projects are you currently working on?
Tsikhlakis: I serve as a member of the higher commission of nutrition that the Ministry of Health has established to take decisions related to nutrition.
FFI: What are the main components to a successful fortification program where you live?
Tsikhlakis: A good and positive collaboration between the parties involved - private, public and civic.
FFI: What are the greatest challenges you have encountered in planning or implementing fortification programs? And how did you address those challenges?
Tsikhlakis: There is a challenge in the process of receiving and delivering the shipment of premix and the analysis of the premix at the port of entry as it takes a long time. To facilitate the process and save time, it is recommended by the responsible persons in the program to modify the technical specification of the premix to include a certificate of analysis from a certified laboratory that has an ISO 17025 certificate.
The ministry of health is currently facing a great challenge in allocating the requested budget and funds to sustain the implementation of the program due to the drastic increase in flour consumption in Jordan that is attributed to the big refugee influx in the last years. I believe that the global community should play a more active role in helping the government to overcome this challenge.
FFI: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Tsikhlakis: I would like to encourage all industry members to pursue an active role in establishing and implementing food fortification programs for the benefit of society.