Fortification of wheat and maize flours
Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.
Globally, more than 600 million metric tons of wheat and maize flours are processed per year and consumed as bread, noodles, tortillas and other flour-based products, making wheat and maize flours good vehicles for fortification. Fortification of industrially processed wheat and maize flour, when appropriately implemented, is an effective, simple, and inexpensive strategy for supplying vitamins and minerals to the diets of large segments of the world’s population.
Wheat and maize flour fortification should be considered when industrially produced flour is regularly consumed by large population groups in a country.
Decisions about which nutrients to add and the appropriate amounts to add should be based on a number of factors including i) the nutritional needs and deficiencies of the population; ii) the usual consumption profile of “fortifiable” flour (i.e. the total estimated amount of flour milled by industrial roller mills, produced domestically or imported, which could in principle be fortified); iii) sensory and physical effects of the added nutrients on flour and flour products; iv) fortification of other food vehicles; and v) costs.
Additional information, including a suggested scheme for fortification, can be found in the guidance summary, and in the guidance documents under 'WHO documents' below.
Status: not currently available
Other guidance documents
Recommendations on wheat and maize flour fortification meeting report: interim consensus statement
Guidelines on food fortification with micronutrients
Related Cochrane reviews
Fortification of wheat and maize flour with folic acid for population health outcomes (protocol)
Wheat flour fortification with iron for reducing anaemia and improving iron status in populations (protocol)
Fortification of maize flour with iron for preventing anaemia and iron deficiency in populations (protocol)
Other related systematic reviews
Evidence of the effectiveness of flour fortification programs on iron status and anemia: a systematic review