The global health burden of vitamin and mineral deficiencies is profound. Iron and folic acid deficiency are particularly devastating, causing serious birth defects and contributing to the deaths of thousands of young women during pregnancy and childbirth.
But there is a simple, cost-effective solution. Each year more than 400 million tons of wheat are milled into flour for food staples such as bread and pasta. Much of the wheat’s nutritional value is lost as it is milled, but nutrition can be restored – and improved – through flour fortified with vitamins and minerals such as iron, folic acid, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin A.
The Flour Fortification Initiative, founded in 2004, builds alliances between governments and international agencies, wheat and flour industries, and consumer and civic organizations to increase the vitamin and mineral content in flour. The network of partners, including CDC, is working to make flour fortification standard practice in large roller mills.
“The most visible evidence of success is to see decreases in neural tube defects because women get more folic acid in their diets,” says Robert Baldwin, public-sector liaison for the Flour Fortification Initiative. “Nearly 2 billion people now have potential access to fortified flour – 858 million more than in 2004. Flour fortification is a simple, affordable way to dramatically impact global health.”
The movement to fortify flour with essential vitamins and minerals is celebrating a 10-year milestone. The first global “Policy Planning Forum” for flour fortification was held in October 2002. This movement led to a network of partners called the Flour Fortification Initiative (FFI). Learn more at www.FFInetwork.org.
In the News:
- Partners Celebrate 10 Years of Flour Fortification Progress (October 24, 2012)