Middle East Global Leadership in Wheat Flour Fortification

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While fortification benefits women and children, men also need vitamins and minerals throughout their lives. Oman photo by Mark Fischer on Flickr.

Wheat flour is the main cereal grain consumed in this region. In 1978 Saudi Arabia became one of the first countries in this region to require wheat flour fortification. In the 1990s, several more countries in the region began fortifying wheat flour with encouragement from international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Nutrition International (formerly Micronutrient Initiative).

Oman Flour Mills began fortifying flour with iron and folic acid on a trial basis for a regional workshop held in Oman in October 1996. By the time of the workshop, the flour was fortified successfully, making Oman the first country worldwide to achieve national-scale flour fortification with folic acid. Most countries with flour fortification mandates now include this essential B vitamin in their flour fortification standards. Countries which track the results have seen 30 to 70% declines in pregnancies affected by neural tube defects. See the report.

This region is also a global leader with another nutrient as Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are the first places to fortify flour with vitamin D. Iran is considering adding vitamin D to its standard for fortified wheat flour.

Click here for basic fortification information in Arabic.

The countries in this region and the legislative status of grain fortification are listed below. Also, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates fortify more than half of their industrially milled wheat flour even though it is not mandatory.

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
Iran, Islamic Republic ofMandatoryNoneNone
Palestine, State ofMandatoryNoneNone
Saudi ArabiaVoluntaryNoneNone
Syrian Arab RepublicNoneNoneNone
United Arab EmiratesVoluntaryNoneNone

Middle East - Fortification Status

Our definition of the legislative status is:

  • Mandatory: Country has legislation that has the effect of mandating fortification of one or more types of wheat or maize flour or rice with at least iron or folic acid.
  • Voluntary: Country has standard for fortification, but fortification is not mandatory.
  • Dashes in the above table indicate territories with fortification legislation under the jurisdiction of another country.

If the information we have is incorrect, please send updated 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.




EMRO Harmonization

20 February 2012

Regional Nutrition Conference

29 March 2011


Food Fortification Could Be Next Global Health Success Story - If Countries Close Gaps
28 February 2019

Review finds fortification documents often lack key elements
29 June 2018

Nicolas Tsikhlakis,CEO and Partner at the Modern Flour Mills and Macaroni Factories, Jordan #FFI15
12 December 2017

Deena Alasfoor, Expert, Public Health, Ministry of Health, Oman #FFI15
24 October 2017

Ayoub Al-Jawaldeh, Regional Adviser in Nutrition, World Health Organizatio, Regional Office for Eastern Mediterranean Region #FFI15
24 October 2017

Regional Resources

Decline in anemia among pre-school children in Jordan after wheat flour fortification began

Flour Fortification in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Sustainable Route to Improved Health

Flour Millers Toolkit in Arabic

Flour fortification information in Arabic