MEDICINAL FOOD NEWS

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Fortifying Food

Many of us know what we should be eating to stay healthy, but often it is difficult to plan a menu that each day will supply natural sources of essential vitamins and minerals. This is one of the reasons why food fortification programs began. Now with have margarines with added vitamin A and milk fortified with vitamin D and table salt that contains iodine. Health regulatory officials decided that to make sure we get our minimum allowance of some very important nutrients it was best to make it compulsory in some countries to add a selected list of nutrients to common foods. As we have seen with the rise in popularity of functional foods - everyday foods with ingredients that are believed to be good for health - food companies are starting to add vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to a wide range of products. This may not be such a good thing.

Fortification to Nutrient Intake

Health Canada in their recently released publication "Addition of Vitamins and Minerals to Foods - Proposed Policy Recommendations" endorse food fortification programs, but they also warn that, in the future, adding a vitamin or a mineral to a food for no apparent nutritional benefit to the consumer will not be allowed. In addition, they will require some justification to explain why a particular food has been used as a vehicle for fortification. Chocolate bars with added calcium and phosphorus may seem like a good idea if you want to sell chocolate bars. Selling the idea that young people are growing and need calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth, and the new and improved chocolate bar should be included in their diet may be difficult to get past Health Canada.

It is apparent that Health Canada is one regulatory agency that wants to avoid unwary consumers getting taken in by food and drink manufacturers who are trying to ride the functional food /nutraceutical wave whether it makes sense for their product or not.

Table 1:
Four Categories of Functional Foods
Foods in their ’Natural State’e.g. carrots that contain the anti-oxidant beta-carotene
Foods consisting of an isolated natural componente.g. oat bran cereal (as a source of fibre)
Enriched foodse.g. calcium enriched orange juice (source of calcium)
Food variety selected for the enhanced level of a particular componente.g. tomatoes with high levels of the anti-oxidant lycopene
  1. Reference
  2. Addition of Vitamins and Minerals to Foods - Health Canada - Summary report of Stakeholder Consultation1

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