Butter out & sweetened dairy in for Swedish mandatory vitamin D fortification

By Annie Harrison-Dunn contact

- Last updated on GMT

'We didn’t want to lose more time. For every month we waited, there was more risk of deficiency.' Photo credit: iStock.com / Tonygers
'We didn’t want to lose more time. For every month we waited, there was more risk of deficiency.' Photo credit: iStock.com / Tonygers

Related tags: Fat, Nutrition

The Swedish National Food Agency (NFA) has removed butter from the list of foods to be subject to mandatory vitamin D fortification and added sweetened dairy, following concerns raised in a consultation period.

The agency told us last May it would be expanding the list of products subject to mandatory vitamin D fortification to reflect real-life consumption habits and reach populations vulnerable to deficiency.

Yet a first-round consultation revealed concerns about the plans from a range of stakeholders.

Among the consequent changes is a U-turn on the inclusion of butter and exclusion of sweetened diary.

The Swedish Association of Clinical Dietitians (DRF), the Helsingborg Environmental Administration, Swedish Food Federation (LI) and Swedish dairy farmers association (LRF) questioned whether the exclusion of sweetened diary might reduce the efficacy of the programme and its ability to reach at-risk populations.

In light of these comments, the NFA has reversed the previous exclusion but reiterated this did not mean it encouraged the consumption of such sweetened dairy products.

To reflect the inclusion of these additional products, the range of vitamin D concentrations to be used was increased from the previously proposed 0.95-1.10 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams to 0.75-1.10 µg per 100 g. 

The NFA also confirmed it would be removing butter from the proposed list due to the difficulty and cost of its fortification compared to other foodstuff.

Asa Brugård Konde, one of the NFA nutritionists behind the plans, told NutraIngredients it had considered spending more time and effort researching the fortification of butter, but decided it could not be justified given the relatively small intake this would represent.

“Everything was just taking too long. We didn’t want to lose more time. For every month we waited, there was more risk of deficiency.”

Objections were also raised on what health message the fortification would send to the public, Brugård Konde said, but this was not the deciding factor in its deletion from the list.

She said the NFA would not want to “punish”​ members of the public who did not follow its nutrition guidelines.

Jeopardising competitiveness?

Major Swedish-Danish fats and oils supplier AarhusKarlshamn (AAK) also raised concerns in the consultation.

It said if all ingredients were subject to mandatory fortification regardless of whether they were bound for use in consumer end products, the country’s food industry would be compromised.

In its feedback, AAK said fortification would increase costs and likely see national and foreign food manufacturers shifting away from Sweden to cheaper suppliers. Instead it said the plan should be limited to finished consumer products.  

Responding to the concerns however, the NFA clarified that finished products for consumers were the target of the regulation not industrial-scale ingredients.

Voluntary action on this was welcome though, Brugård Konde said.

Comments can be submitted on the revised proposals until 29 January 2016. After which the law will be passed onto the European Commission for notification.

Brugård Konde said her team hoped this would happen by summer. 

Related topics: Regulation & Policy

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