Food fortification is the process of supplementing food or drink products, usually with vitamins or minerals.
This is done in order to either replace nutrients that may have been lost during production or simply to add extra ones, for health benefits or marketing purposes.
The mandatory fortification of foods by public health policy is a means of improving the nutritional status of a population, intending to reduce dietary deficiencies within a particular region or sub-population. For example, the addition of vitamins and minerals to flour and margarine is mandatory under UK legislation in order to increase our calcium intake.
Many foods are fortified voluntarily. For example, breakfast cereals are voluntarily fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals.
Staple foods contribute a large proportion of our diet so it is important to consider if they lack particular nutrients and fortify these products in order to reduce dietary deficiencies within a population.
There are strict safety regulations on the fortification of foods.
Regulation (EC) 1925/2006 sets out clear maximum and minimum levels of fortification for safety reasons. It also sets out labelling requirements and lists of vitamins and minerals that can be voluntarily added to foods.
Vitamins and minerals cannot be added to any unprocessed foods, such as fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry or fish.