News

Fortifying salt with iodine improves deficiency problem

July 4, 2012

New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has reported that the mandatory fortification of iodized salt in bread has significantly reduced the number of iodine deficient children.

In the study, a sample of 530 breads was collected over three weeks from four New Zealand regions and categorized into eight bread groups – white, fiber white, whole meal, multigrain, rye, fruited, organic and crumpets. The sodium and iodine content of each group was then measured. The dietary intake of iodine in children aged 5-14 was also estimated. The study results showed that the percentage of children estimated to have inadequate iodine intakes has dropped from 30 to 4% due to iodine fortification. Only 1% of children consumed excessive levels of iodine. Across New Zealand’s food industry, bread was identified to be the highest iodine contributor, followed by milk and dairy products, grains and pasta, then meats and eggs.

The researchers concluded that the children’s intake of iodine has significantly improved since a mandatory bread fortification policy was introduced across New Zealand and Australia in 2009. The results indicate that the ministry has achieved its goal of ensuring that more than 70% of school-aged children reach the recom-mended iodine intake. Since the policy was introduced, bakers across both countries have been using iodized salt in all but organic and unleavened breads. The aim of the policy was to improve the mild to moderate iodine deficiency levels that had been identified in the population.

Researchers of a recent European study have called for a common European Union policy on use of iodized salt in the food industry, after finding that 44% of Europeans are deficient in the vitamin (1). The World Health Organization said iodine deficiency is the world’s single greatest cause of preventable brain damage and mental impairment.

References

  1. Andersson M. et al. Iodine deficiency in Europe: A continuing public health problem. World Health Organization and UNICEF Report 2007.