What is food fortification?
Good nutrition is not just about having enough food, but about having the right food, at the right times. The food we eat must contain enough nutrients otherwise we can become malnourished.
Food fortification is one important step in making sure populations gain a balanced diet. It helps to fill micronutrient gaps where populations struggle to access nutritious foods, which is especially important as populations grow, live in more urban areas, and consume more processed foods rather than freshly grown food. Many nations have been consuming fortified foods to increase nutrition as early as the 1970’s.
Why is food fortification a good thing?
Fortified foods help to fill in the nutritional gaps in our diet. They can deliver vitamins and minerals to large portions of the population without requiring large changes in our behaviour or diet. For example, salt is a regularly used ingredient in Cambodia and has been fortified with addition iodine. This improves iodine levels which is important for healthy growth and learning.
Despite evidence of great impacts through fortified salt in Cambodia, very few other foods have been fortified with micro-nutrients.
Fish and soya sauces are common ingredients in Khmer cooking and are good “vehicles” for iron fortification. Low iron levels is a significant issue in Cambodia, which results in a dangerous condition called anaemia. This is an issue for children, but also for young mothers who require good iron levels before and during pregnancy.
What can you do?
To help improve your iron levels, and the iron levels of your children, purchase fish and soya sauce that carries this special logo.
This lets you know that the product has been fortified with important iron supplements and is approved by the Ministry of Industry for sale in Cambodia.
What can the government do?
To improve the nutrition status of children, the Royal Government of Cambodia should identify the best foods for fortification in Cambodia through a national food consumption survey, and pass further legislation to fortify additional foods (such as soya sauce and fish sauce).