Wheat Flour and Rice Fortification in Asia

With more than half the world's people over age 60 years living in Asia and the Pacific, it is important to note the nutrients provided through fortification are needed throughout the life span. Photo by Adam Cohn on Flickr.

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.

Fortification Legislation Status by Country and Grain

Click on any of the column headings to sort the list by Country, Wheat Flour, Maize Flour, or Rice.

Country Wheat Flour Maize Flour Rice
AfghanistanVoluntary----
Bangladesh------
Bhutan------
Brunei Darussalam------
Cambodia------
ChinaVoluntary----
Hong Kong------
IndonesiaMandatory----
Japan------
Korea, Democratic People's Republic------
Korea, Republic of------
Lao People's Democratic Republic------
Macau------
Malaysia------
Maldives------
Mongolia------
Myanmar------
NepalMandatory----
Pakistan------
PhilippinesMandatory--Mandatory
Singapore------
Sri Lanka------
Taiwan------
Thailand------
Timor-Leste------
Viet NamMandatory----

Asia - Fortification Status

Our definition of the legislative status is:

  • Mandatory: Legislation has the effect of mandating fortification of one or more types of wheat flour, maize flour, and /or rice with at least iron or folic acid.
  • Voluntary: Country has standard for fortification, but fortification is not mandatory.
  • Territory: Countries that are not listed as United Nations countries or observers or are not recognized by at least one UN country are listed as a territory.
  • Dashes in the table indicate that no information is available. Please send missing information to info@ffinetwork.org
In updating or creating new policy documents for fortification, review this checklist of key topics to include in legislation, standards and monitoring guidelines.

Contact

Events

5th International Rice Congress

15 October 2018

Asia-Pacific Conference on Human Genetics

08 November 2017

Scaling Up Rice Fortification in Asia

16 September 2014

Southeast Asia IAOM District Conference and Expo

08 October 2013

IAOM Southeast Asia 2012

08 October 2012

News

2017 Annual Report
21 March 2018

Greg Harvey, Chief Executive Officer of Interflour Group based in Singapore #FFI15
24 October 2017

Victor Temple, Professor of Biochemistry in Papua New Guinea #FFI15
24 October 2017

Do Hong Phuong, Nutrition Policy Specialist at UNICEF, Viet Nam #FFI15
24 October 2017

Fortification for the Poorest of the Urban Poor
06 June 2017

Regional Resources

Dutch funding to help scale up rice fortification in Bangladesh with World Food Programme

Accelerated Shelf Life Evaluation of Instant Noodles Made with Fortified Flour

Monitoring of Flour Fortification: The Case of Indonesia

Indonesia study recommends using a more bioavailable form of iron in wheat flour fortification

Asian Wheat Flour Products: Impact of Flour Fortification on Organoleptic Properties

Iodizing salt and fortifying flour: The best investment for Viet Nam's national economic development

Viet Nam report on deficiencies of iodine, vitamin A, iron, folic acid, and zinc

Viet Nam Policy Brief in Vietnamese

Fortification recommendations in Vietnamese

Pakistan food fortification scoping study

Regulatory monitoring systems of fortified salt and wheat flour in selected ASEAN countries

Meeting on Regulatory Monitoring of Salt and Flour Fortification Programmes in Asia

Meeting report on implementation in Asia of the recommendations on wheat flour fortification

Frequently asked questions about rice fortification

Fortification recommendations in Mongolian

Material in Chinese