Viet Nam became the most recent country to mandate wheat flour fortification when the Prime Minister signed a decree in January 2016. The legislation requires fortification of salt and oil as well as wheat flour.
Wheat flour consumption is increasing as consumption of breads and noodles, and particularly instant noodles, increases. This is causing more countries in this region to consider mandatory wheat flour fortification programs.
To determine consumer acceptability of foods made with fortified wheat flour, a series of tests was conducted on 15 different kinds of noodles and breads commonly eaten in Asia. The foods were fortified with at least iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 at levels recommended by the World Health Organization. Some foods were also fortified with vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and zinc. The results, published in 2011, show that:
- Fortified foods were acceptable in all cases
- Several iron compounds could be used successfully in these foods
- Nutrients appear to be retained throughout the food preparation process
At the same time, rice remains the primary staple food in most countries here. Consequently we support the fortification of both rice and wheat flour throughout Asia.
Fortified rice is available through social safety net programs in Bangladesh, a voluntary market-based approach in Myanmar, a workplace benefit program in Singapore, and a pilot project in Viet Nam. Rice fortification is mandatory in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.