According to a new report the voluntary additions of micronutrients to foods in Ireland have made a favorable nutritional impact on the diets of adults and have not contributed to an increased risk of adverse effects.
The study investigated the impact of voluntary food fortification practices in Ireland from the late 1990s through 2010, based on two national dietary intake surveys, the North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey (NSIFCS) performed between 1997-1999, and the National Adult Nutrition Survey (NANS), performed between 2008-2010 (1). It was found that fortified foods are major contributors to nutrient intakes in Ireland. Fortified foods such as ready-to-eat cereals, cereal bars, juices and sports drinks increased substantially between the survey periods. Fortified foods provided more than 10% of the public’s intake of nutrients such as vitamin B1, B2, B3, folate and iron. In the NANS survey, fortification contributed significantly to the intake key shortfall nutrients such as vitamin D and vitamin E. Furthermore, populations at increased risk of insufficient micronutrient supply, such as women of childbearing age, were identified as specifically benefitting from fortification practices, as fortified foods made large contributions towards the intake of important nutrients such as iron and folate, increasing the protection against neural tube defects.
The researchers noted that the fortifications did not result in intakes of micronutrients over the tolerable upper intake level (UL), underscoring the safety of fortification. The minimal impact of food fortification on reducing the prevalence of inadequate intakes of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and zinc was attributable to the infrequent addition of these micronutrients to foods. Despite the improvement in nutrient intakes that fortification has provided, significant nutrient gaps still exist among Irish adults. For instance, more than 10% of adults were not meeting the recommended intake for vitamin A and more than 90% of Irish adults were not meeting the recommended intake for vitamin D, the scientists said.