Food fortification to combat micronutients deficiencies: FNRI-DOST

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been advocating for the consumption of fortified foods to combat micronutrients deficiencies such as iron deficiency anemia (IDA), iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) and Vitamin A deficiency (VAD).

The food fortification program is being implemented through Republic Act 8976 or The Philippine Food Fortification Law of 2000.

Victor Franco Alfonso Jr. of FNRI-DOST said that among the components of the food fortification law is the mandatory fortification solely of staple food products such as cooking oil, wheat flour, rice, refined sugar and the voluntary fortification of processed foods through the Sangkap Pinoy Seal and under the regulation of the Bureau of Foods and Drugs of the Department of Health for quality, labeling and addition of fortificants.

Products that have been approved by the Sangkap Pinoy Seal include noodles, snack foods, supplementary foods for infants, biscuits, breads, cheese products, milk, chocolate drinks, sandwich spread and fruit drinks, meat and fish products, and condiments.

Alfonso said it is important to  inform the public of the benefits of fortified foods to address micronutrient malnutrition prevalence in the country as results of the 2008 FNRI survey revealed that two in every ten children aged 0-5 and children 6-12 years old have IDA.

The survey results also showed that one in every ten males under the age bracket of 13-19 years old has IDA, while two in every ten females have IDA.

IDA was also present in four among ten pregnant and lactating mothers, and three in ten lactating mothers.

The same survey findings revealed that 15 in every 100 children aged six months to five years old had Vitamin A deficiency, while one in every ten under the age of 6-12 years old had VAD.

Health authorities said that micronutrient malnutrition results to retarded physical growth, reduced resistance to infection leading to frequent illness, slow development of learning abilities, and reduced school performance in infants and children.

In pregnant women, the effects would be fetal growth retardation, low infant birth weight, increased perinatal mortality and labor complications. (With report by Carina L. Cayon)