Wheat Flour and Rice Fortification Status in the Pacific Region

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Papua New Guinea photo from US Oacific Fleet on Flickr.

In November 2018, the Minister of Health and Medical Services of the Solomon Islands, the Hon. Tautai Agikimua Kaitu’U, approved a standard that requires rice to be fortified with iron, zinc, folic acid, thiamin, and niacin. Solomon Islands is the seventh country globally to have such legislation.

Wheat flour fortification was already mandatory in Solomon Islands. Rice consumption is significantly higher than that of wheat flour products, however, especially outside of the capital of Honiara. Using data from the 2012-2013 Household Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES), researchers concluded that fortified rice would “contribute considerably” to nutrient intake among women of reproductive age.

Requiring both rice and wheat flour to be fortified will significantly increase the likelihood of Solomon Islands' nearly 600,000 residents reaching target levels of essential vitamins and minerals.

Also in this region, Australia and Fiji have reported improvements in nutrient status among the population due to wheat flour fortification. In 2009, fortifying bread flour with folic acid was mandated in Australia. Since then, the following three studies have demonstrated an improved health impact from this program:

In Fiji, the prevalence of iron, folate and zinc deficiency significantly reduced after wheat flour was fortified, according to a 2010 report from the National Food and Nutrition Centre. The most change was in the prevalence of zinc deficiency which dropped from 39.3% before fortification to 0% after fortification. Also, anemia in women of child bearing age improved from 40.3% before fortification to 27.6% after fortification.

Both wheat flour and rice are important cereal grains in this region. Other than New Zealand and Australia, most countries import wheat and rice. A key difference is that wheat is usually milled domestically, while the imported rice is already milled. This difference has important implications for rice fortification. See this worksheet to help determine if requiring fortification of rice imports is feasible. Also see these rice fortification resources.

Fuel and food prices, growing populations, and increasing urbanization are changing the diets of people throughout this region. These changing patterns very often result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies as less land is available for local production of fruits and vegetables. Fortifying staple foods has the potential to impact millions of people here. 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
American Samoa------
AustraliaMandatoryNoneNone
Christmas Island------
Cocos (Keeling) Islands------
Cook Islands------
FijiMandatoryNoneNone
French Polynesia------
Guam------
KiribatiMandatoryNoneNone
Marshall IslandsNoneNoneNone
Micronesia, Federated States ofNoneNoneNone
NauruNoneNoneNone
New Caledonia------
New ZealandNoneNoneNone
Niue------
Norfolk Island------
Northern Mariana Islands------
PalauNoneNoneNone
Papua New GuineaNoneNoneMandatory
Pitcairn Islands------
SamoaNoneNoneNone
Solomon IslandsMandatoryNoneMandatory
Tokelau------
TongaNoneNoneNone
TuvaluNoneNoneNone
VanuatuNoneNoneNone
Wake Island------
Wallis and Futuna Islands------

Pacific - 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.

 

Contact

Events

9th International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World

23 October 2019

Asia-Pacific Conference on Human Genetics

08 November 2017

Samoa Consultations

15 March 2011

Fiji Food Security Meeting

04 February 2011

News

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

2017 Annual Report
21 March 2018

Fortification for the Poorest of the Urban Poor
06 June 2017

2015 Year in Review
23 March 2016

Regional Resources

Potential dietary contributions from rice and wheat flour fortification in Solomon Islands

New Zealand editors writes that fortifying with folic acid would be "triumph for the greater good."

Fortifying with folic acid lowers homocysteine among elderly Australians

Potential for rice and wheat flour fortification in Western Pacific region

Impact of iron fortified flour in child bearing age women in Fiji - 2010 report