By Kerry Cullinan, Health-e, 22-10-2002
Brown bread and mielie meal, the staple food of the country’s poorest citizens, will soon be fortified with vitamins to help combat malnutrition.
According to draft regulations published by the Department of Health on Friday (October 18), it will soon be compulsory for the milling industry to add a range of micro-nutrients to their products or face legal action.
The regulations will have important implications for children, old people and those whose immune systems are compromised by diseases such as AIDS and TB, said Health Department spokesperson Jo-Anne Collinge.
It is estimated that about 30% of South African children are stunted from a lack adequate nutrition in the early years of their lives.
South Africa also has a high level of preventable birth defects which are caused by folic acid deficiencies, one of the micronutrients to be added to the food, added Collinge.
We intend to watch the milling industry like hawks to ensure that they don’t exaggerate the cost of this fortification when they try to recoup the cost from consumers.
Aside from folic acid, the food will be fortified by Vitamin A, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine, iron, zinc and calcium according to a formula determined by the department.
Manufacturers and importers of bread and mielie meal can only obtain the micro-nutrient mix from companies that have registered with the Department of Health.
Interested parties have three months to respond to the draft regulations