Micronutrient fortification

micronutrient fortification

Micronutrient fortification

What is the issue?

Micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A, iodine, vitamin D and zinc are vital for health and wellness at all stages of life. However, micronutrient deficiency is a common public health problem, particularly in low-and middle-income countries. The condition is a particular concern for teenage girls and women of childbearing age because of the health impact it can have on their babies.

Although micronutrient deficiency is less of an issue in the UK compared to other countries, studies show that poor dietary choices are leading to inadequate intakes of certain micronutrients among the UK population.

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Why is it important?

Ideally, we should be getting all the nutrients we need from a balanced and varied diet. However, this isn’t always possible, particularly in developing countries where social conditions like poverty can contribute to undernutrition.

The food and drink industry has an opportunity to help improve the health of people at risk of nutrition deficiency by providing food and drink fortified with micronutrients. As a global company with operations in many countries where undernutrition is a problem, we have a responsibility to make a positive difference through the products we offer.

 

  • In progress
  • By 2016 – (globally) Reach 200 billion servings of micronutrient-fortified foods and beverages annually worldwide, helping to address global micronutrient deficiencies with a special focus on children and women of childbearing age.
Society

Addressing micronutrient deficiencies in the diets of local communities.

Business

New business opportunities.

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What are we doing about it?

To help us address this health issue at a global level, we have a policy on micronutrient fortification (pdf, 1Mb). Its aim is:

“...to promote the micronutrient fortification of foods and beverages at levels that are sufficient to help to improve and maintain health, but in amounts that do not increase the risk of developing adverse consequences from excessive consumption.”

Our work on addressing micronutrient deficiencies is focused on developing micronutrient-fortified foods and beverages for children and women of childbearing age. In 2015, we provided 192 billion servings of these products globally. By 2016, we’re aiming to increase this to 200 billion.

In the UK, we fortify Nestlé breakfast cereals with a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B6, B2 (riboflavin), folic acid and iron. We fortify Nesquik mix for milk with vitamin D, vitamin C, thiamin, iron and zinc. Carnation milks are fortified with vitamin D and Maggi seasoning mixes are fortified with iodised salt.

SMA Follow-On and Toddler milks are fortified with all essential vitamins and minerals including iron,Vitamin D and calcium.
Cerelac products are fortified with Iron, calcium, vitamin D, Zinc, Iodine and Vitamins A & C.

Family dinner 

91%

The intake of dietary vitamin D is below the estimated average requirements for 91% of children aged 18-35 months in the UK (2).

Micronutrient deficiency in the UK

A recent UK study (1) found that poor dietary choices not only increase the risk of obesity, but can also lead to inadequate intakes of certain micronutrients, especially folate, vitamin D, calcium, iron and iodine. The groups most vulnerable include adolescents, ethnic minorities and lower socioeconomic groups, with teenage girls and women of childbearing age a particular concern.

Vitamin D deficiency is a particular issue in the UK, especially among children. The latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey data (pdf, 1Mb) reveals the proportion of children in the UK with vitamin D blood levels below the recommended threshold.

Children blood levels graph 

The data also shows that fortified foods can play a significant role in helping the population achieve their recommended intake of vitamin D and other nutrients. In the UK, Nestlé breakfast cereals, Nesquik mix for milk, SMA infant products and Carnation milks are fortified with vitamin D.

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What’s next?

In the UK, we will continue to fortify products to help address specific vitamin or nutrient deficiencies within certain groups of the population.

Globally we will work towards achieving 200 billion micronutrient-fortified servings of foods and beverages annually worldwide by end of 2016, helping to address global micronutrient deficiencies with a special focus on children and women of childbearing age. We will also continue to develop the supply chain for biofortified crops and expand our fortified portfolio globally.

For more information – read our Nestlé in Society Summary Report 2015 (pdf, 1Mb).

Footnotes

1. Miller R et al. Micronutrient status and intake in the UK – where might we be in 10 years’ time? British Nutrition Foundation 2016.
2. Source: Gibson S and Sidnell A. Nutrient imbalance in 1-3 year old children. Nutrition Bulletin.