Food Fortification

The Challenge

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (VMDs) can negatively impact the health and survival of women and children. It has especially negative consequences on the growth and educational performance of children, and can adversely affect pregnancies. 
  • Due to a lack of resources and vitamin-rich foods, many developing nations are plagued with micronutrient deficiencies that lead to anemia, diarrhea, and/or blindness-related diseases.
  • VMDs cause premature death, disability and reduced work capacity in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, the practice of fortifying staple foods, which is commonplace in industrialized countries, has not yet taken hold everywhere.

HKI Solution

To sustain wide-spread progress in reducing malnutrition, HKI collaborates on large-scale efforts in partnership with the private sector to fortify essential cooking ingredients such as cooking oil and wheat flour with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, iron and folic acid. HKI also actively promotes the use of these fortified products to entire populations. Our efforts include:

  • Fortifying Cooking Oil with Vitamin A: Tache D’Huile is a partnership between public and private party stakeholders in eight francophone countries in West Africa focused on fortifying cooking oil with vitamin A. Cooking oil was chosen because it is a daily staple in the West African diet that is purchased and consumed in small quantities even among the poorest families.

    HKI works closely with the Association of Oil Producing Industries of the Monetary and Economic Union of West Africa (known by its French acronym AIFO-UEMOA), an association that includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, and whose combined population is approximately 85 million, including over 15 million children under the age of 5. This initiative aims to supply fortified cooking oil to at least 70% of the population, or 60 million people including 11 million children under age 5, by the end of 2010.

    In June 2007, after five years of advocacy and leadership in the region, HKI and the UEMOA Commission signed an agreement that outlined the steps needed to achieve mandatory vitamin A fortification of cooking oil in the participating countries. HKI has been a critical player in creating the regulatory framework and is developing social marketing strategies to maximize its success.

    HKI also works with each country’s oil factories to help them start producing and distributing vitamin A-fortified oil.

  • Fortifying Wheat Flour. HKI harnessed the momentum of the Tache D’Huile initiative to expand the fight against vitamin and mineral deficiencies with a wheat flour fortification strategy to Fortify West Africa. The fortification of cereal wheat flour, another market-penetrating staple food, with folic acid and iron will help combat birth defects and iron deficiency.

    In November 2007, health ministers of 15 countries in ECOWAS, the West African regional organization for integrated economic development, passed a resolution for the fortification of wheat flour. Activities are now underway to adopt norms for micronutrient fortification of cereal flours in the UEMOA region with plans to enlarge the scope of fortification work to cover all ECOWAS countries.