Nutrition manager Rimi Obra-Ratwatte told NutraIngredients this morning that the fortification of brands like Rice Krispies would kick in during 2012, and was a reaction to rising levels of Rickets and other maladies associated with vitamin D deficiencies among the young.
She said the 1.25mcg level had been chosen because nutritional advice suggested 25% of nutrients should be attained at breakfast occasions, although she acknowledged that less children were eating traditional breakfasts such as cereals.
“Kids are not getting enough vitamin D and there are various reasons for that both dieat and lifestyle,” she said. “They are staying indoors more and playing computer games, they are eating chocolates and sweets on the way to school instead of eating a proper breakfast, they are not eating enough oil fish which contains good levels of vitamin D. So this goes to address some of those issues. It’s part of our evolving fortification policies.”
Kellogg’s timed the announcement to coincide with the turning back of the clocks to end summer daylight saving which will occur this weekend, and noed it would be now even more difficult for children and adults to boost vitamin D levels through exposure to the sun as winter approaches.
The company, which was one of the first to mass manufacture a fortified food when it began fortifying its cereals with vitamins in the 1930s, said research showed Rickets was on the rise among children in the UK.
That research among paediatricians showed 94% of them felt parents undervalued the importance of vitamin D in children’s diets.
"Although we have seen an increase in awareness of rickets as a condition, it does not seem to have reduced the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the population we treat and that is of great concern,” said the researcher, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Professor Nicholas Clarke at Southampton General Hospital.
"We continue to see children, possibly with increased frequency, with vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in the clinic and my review is that vitamin D inclusion in cereal is essentially a good idea given the pathology we are seeing."
"Our study showed that Vitamin D deficiency does not occur in any particular ethnic minority or social depravation group. It's something that affects all demographic groups."
Food manufacturers have in the past been criticised for fortifying less healthy foods that may be high in fat, sugar or salt with vitamins or other nutrients, a complex issue that partially explains why EU nutrient profiling proposals remain just that – proposals.
Obra-Ratwatte said there were many misconceptions about breakfast cereals most of which she noted, “were not sugary foods”.
“We have committed to reducing sugar levels in our foods in the next 12-18 months because that is what parents and consumers have communicated to us,” she said. “But people should look to facts rather than urban myths. There are 1-2 teaspoons of sugar [per regular serving] in most cereals which is far less than toast and jam or even yoghurt.”
Brands to receive vitamin D fortification for the first time are Coco Pops, Coco Pops Moons & Stars, Coco Pops Rocks, Coco Pops Moons and Stars and Rice Krispies, Rice Krispies Multigrain and Honey Loops.
Kellogg's Cornflakes, Special K and Coco Pops Choc N Roll and Mini Max, Ricicles are already vitamin D-fortified to some degree.