A brief introduction to food fortification

Food fortification is one of the major public health concerns to mitigate mass malnutrition in societies.  In the present scenario, governments and other agencies very well understand that without a healthy society, it is futile to hope to get better performances in any field. Fundamentally, it is well understood that COVID-19 is endemic and that people who have developed good immunity are the best way to combat coronaviruses. Food fortification is the best way to combat and cost-effectively address micronutrient deficiencies in any national scenario. The addition of one or a combination of micronutrients such as vitamins, essential fatty acids, or proteins to a staple food or condiment to fulfill the nutritional quality of the food. The food fortification method effectively combats hidden hunger to build a healthy nation. Food fortification can include the addition of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, folic acid, thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxin, and microelements such as Fe, Ca, Zn, and iodine. In food, packaging labeling is denoted by +F (fortification) as per compliance with the FSSAI food fortification regulation 2018.

What is the difference between food enrichment and fortification?

Food fortification and food enrichment both have different aspects, as food enrichment terms are used for adding the same micronutrients that foods naturally contain but are lost during food processing. For example, during food processing, certain refined grains are reintroduced that have been supplemented with folic acid, riboflavin, and other vitamins. Fortification is the addition of micronutrients to foods that do not naturally contain those compounds; for example, iodine is added to salt, and other iron or minerals are added to wheat flour, maize flour, edible oils, and so on.

The History of Food Fortification

In approximately 4000 BC, Persian physician Melampus added iron to sweet wine to give sailors more physical strength against spears and arrows. This is the earliest recorded instance of food fortification. Scientifically, David Marine and O. P. Kimball first published an article on how iodine could prevent endemic goiter in Akron schoolchildren in 1920. This information has gained enough traction in medical circles to warrant a timeline. Thus, the Michigan State Medical Society announced one of the world’s first food fortification campaigns had come into public concern in the USA. Finally, iodized fortification salt was opened for commercial marketing to combat iodine deficiencies in 1924. Folic acid was added to flour and cereal foods to combat Neural Tube Defects in infants in 1998 in the United States. Similarly, vitamin D was incorporated into milk in the 1900s. In India, food fortification started with edible oils and salt in the year 1950. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Regulation Act 2016 established standards for the fortification of rice, double-fortified salt (DFS), rice and wheat flour (Iron, Vitamin B12, and Folic Acid), edible oil, and milk. FSSAI also comprises a Food Fortification Resource Centre to take part in various activities like food fortification logo development as the +F logo and monitoring various programs like double-fortified salt (DFS) (Iodine and Iron) and fortified edible oil (Vitamins A and D) through mid-day meals (MDM) and Integrated Child Development Schemes (ICDS).

What is the type of food fortification?

There are three types of food fortification: commercial and industrial fortification, in which micronutrients are added to wheat flour, corn meal, and cooking oils to improve the nutrient profile of staple foods that can reach the greatest number of consumers; biofortification, which can be obtained by improving the quality of nutrients through traditional bleeding techniques or genetic modification such as zinc finger and CRISPR/Cas9; or in-house or homemade fortification using simple micronutrients such as Vitamin D drops added to food.

What is the significance of food fortification?

Food fortification is a mass program to eliminate micronutrient deficiency and reduce disease-related health risks in the interest of public health. Because micronutrients are essential for the body’s metabolites, mental development, and growth, it is critical to consume a proper balance and quantity of them through food, which is why food fortification is the best option to address this issue. Malnutrition can be eradicated in the country in a single effort for a large number of people living below the poverty line. Food fortification is widely acceptable for all socio-culturally diverse populations with variable eating habits. It does not alter characteristics like food texture or taste. According to the Copenhagen Consensus, fortification food costs one rupee but benefits the country’s economy by nine rupees. As a result, the fortification method is simple to implement, cost-effective, and yields rapid results to improve national public health.

What are the challenges to food fortification?

Technological competence is needed to ensure the stability, freshness, and shelf life of fortified foods in compliance with quality assurances and regulatory bodies. It is difficult to select appropriate fortification vehicles to target specific micronutrient deficiencies in a population where individual quantity requirements vary with age and gender. Individuals have several gene polymorphisms that control the digestion, absorption, and metabolic activities of certain nutrients; therefore, the fortification requirement of micronutrients is difficult to generalize although we could somehow adjust to it. To ensure the quality of food fortification, a micronutrient testing method for each fortified food commodity needed to be developed for spot testing.

How Cultivator Phyto Lab can assist in fortification of Food products?

Cultivator Phyto Lab, is one of the fastest-growing testing organization that can ensure the fortification labeling of your food products in compliance with local and international regulatory bodies. Our experienced experts can assess the shelf life of fortified foods.

Author : Dr. Sanjoy Gupta and Kumar Nitesh



  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/156482659401500413
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/345361
  3. https://fssai.gov.in/cms/fortified-food.php
  4. https://www.scienceworld.ca/stories/whats-difference-between-enriched-and-fortified-foods/
  5. https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/6/1/124/4558005