Wheat Flour and Rice Fortification in Asia
Wheat flour consumption is increasing in this region as consumption of breads and noodles - particularly instant noodles - increases. This is causing more countries in Asia to consider mandatory wheat flour fortification programs.
Mongolia, for example, is working toward finalizing and implementing a food fortification law. Another example is from Sri Lanka where the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine led a food fortification workshop in 2017. Participants agreed that mandatory wheat flour fortification was worth pursuing.
We are often asked if fortified wheat flour can be used in the Asia region without affecting the taste and appearance of commonly consumed foods. To answer that question, in 2011 a series of tests was conducted on 15 kinds of noodles and breads commonly eaten in Asia, such as steamed buns and instant noodles. The foods were made with flour fortified with at least iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 at levels recommended by the World Health Organization. Some flour was also fortified with vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and zinc. The results 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
Rice remains the primary staple food in most countries here. The first step in rice fortification is an analyses of the country's rice milling industries to determine if fortification is feasible.
Currently fortified rice is provided in social safety net programs in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Malaysia, and Nepal. It is available in retail markets through a voluntary, market-based approach in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Some workplace benefit programs offer fortified rice in Bangladesh and Singapore. See more on rice fortification.
The countries in this region and the legislative status of grain fortification are listed below. Click on the country name to see more information.