Fortification of condiments and seasonings with vitamins and minerals in public health: from proof of concept to scaling up


Anthropologists, economists, food scientists, food chemists and health-related lead authors who are interested in preparing review papers on diverse topics related to "Fortification of condiments and seasonings with vitamins and minerals in public health: from proof of concept to scaling up."

The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently working on the development of global guidelines on fortification of several staple foods with vitamins and minerals as part of public health programmes. In addition to staple foods, condiments, spices and seasonings have been proposed as vehicles to increase the intake of vitamins and minerals. In some situations, fortification of condiments or seasonings (e.g. soy and fish sauces, curry powder or bouillon powders or cubes) may be a useful alternative if they are consumed consistently by most of the population, as is the case of many Asian and African countries.

condiments picture

Fortification of condiments and seasonings is a relatively new strategy that may have several benefits, including feasibility, cost-effectiveness, sensory acceptability, targeting of subpopulations, and frequent and consistent use by populations. People in less advantaged groups tend to have little variety in their diet and a small number of foods account for most of their calories per day. In these cases, condiments, spices and seasonings overcome monotony in diet and become staple, possibly reaching some people that cannot afford other fortified foods.

Herbs, spices, seasonings, and condiments are intended to enhance the aroma and taste of food. They are clearly defined by the Codex Alimentarius; however, the category of condiments, spices and seasonings is very ample and the Codex Alimentarius Comission has proposed to change the name condiment to “dried aromatic plants" given the different interpretations in different parts of the world. The majority of condiment and seasoning fortification research has been conducted by adding NaFeEDTA to soy and fish sauces in Southeast Asian countries but other experiences may be available.

Other condiments, such as bouillon cubes or curry powder are being fortified with iron and other vitamins and minerals. The suitability of these condiments and seasonings as safe and efficacious vehicles for additional vitamins and minerals and how such programmes would work in real-world settings require a clear understanding of several aspects from production, consumption, trade as well as acceptability in the population.

In addition to an ongoing Cochrane systematic review on fortification of condiments and seasonings with iron for preventing anaemia and improving health, and other systematic reviews on food fortification, the Evidence and Programme Guidance Unit at the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization, is seeking to commission the following review papers on several topics related to condiments and seasonings production, processing, consumption and fortification (see next page).