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Improved food fortification the goal in GAIN and PHC pact

By Will Chu , 03-Nov-2016
Last updated on 03-Nov-2016 at 16:54 GMT2016-11-03T16:54:03Z

GAIN chief: 'Fortification is a life changing intervention if it is delivered to the right people at the right time and at the right quality.' ©iStock/mercava
GAIN chief: 'Fortification is a life changing intervention if it is delivered to the right people at the right time and at the right quality.' ©iStock/mercava

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) will collaborate with Project Healthy Children (PHC) to raise the standard of fortified foods in low- and middle-income nations.

Details of the partnership were revealed at the Micronutrient Forum 2016 in Cancun, Mexico, where both organisations made clear their commitment to improve the enforcement, quality assurance and control of these foods.

The two organisations are looking to work with the food industry in order to build leadership, improve regulations and enforcement regimes in countries.  

Other objectives include advocating for increased national budget allocations; improving industry quality assurance practices; and engage with civil society to build leadership within the country.

It is hoped these measures will lead to an improvement in the quality of fortified foods, increase intakes of essential vitamins and minerals among vulnerable populations and boost the overall health of entire communities.

“Fortification is a life changing intervention if it is delivered to the right people at the right time and at the right quality,” said Lawrence Haddad, executive director at GAIN. “Our new partnership with PHC, bridging government leadership and business solutions, will significantly increase the likelihood of this happening.”

United in action

Food fortification was identified as one of four strategies set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) that could decrease the incidence of nutrient deficiencies at the global level. Much of this was refined in a meeting in Rome in 2014.

Currently, 86 countries worldwide fortify at least one cereal grain with essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folic acid and zinc.

The quality & compliance of fortified foods was found to be low especially in the African region. © Lennart Niels Mayer

However, analyses of fortification practices reveal that the quality and compliance of these fortified foods are low, especially in the African region, where food fortification is most needed.

“Globally, there is limited data on how compliant fortification programs are resulting in an urgent need to ensure governments and programs have the capacity and tools required to effectively track and take action around food quality issues”, said Laura Rowe, President, PHC. 

“We are excited to work together with GAIN, leveraging our joint expertise, to make a meaningful contribution that we hope will ultimately improve how programs are effectively executed”.

The WHO and FAO, among many other nationally recognised organisations, have estimated that there are over 2 billion people worldwide who suffer from a variety of micronutrient deficiencies.

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