The fortification landscape by Hannah Pearse

The fortification landscape by Hannah Pearse

4 August 2023

In an ideal world we would obtain all the nutrition we needed from our everyday diets. But meeting all of our needs for macro and micronutrient can be challenging, especially with our busy lives, the cost of living crisis and in some cases lack of cooking and storage resource. Therefore helpful initiatives to optimise our diets can only be positive. 

It is therefore widely recognised that fortification- adding positive nutrients into food and drink plays an important role in delivering nutrition at a population level. 1 

In some cases fortification is mandatory and the government stipulates the nutrients that should be added, to which foods and in what quantities. This will be based on extensive modelling, looking at the needs of the population, the foods or drinks that are widely consumed and other sources in the diet. 

In the UK there is already mandatory fortification of flour2  with calcium, iron, thiamine and niacin. Mandatory fortification of margarine came into force in 1940, when butter was rationed and margarine become a more available alternative. It is now no longer a requirement, however many spreads companies continue to fortify on a voluntary basis.3 

It has also recently been announced that along with the current fortification, folic acid will be added to non-wholemeal flour. This follows the example of many other countries already adding folic acid to prevent neural tube defects in pregnancy, but it has taken years for the UK to reach this decision. 

Vitamin D is of interest, as deficiency is widespread across  all countries and demographics. It is estimated that over 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D, having negative impacts on bone health and immunity. 

For this reason some countries have implemented mandatory Vitamin D fortification of milk including Sweden and Canada. 

In Finland, introducing a rigorous fortification strategy for Vitamin D  reduced the percentage of the those deficient from 12% to <1%.4 

The UK Government  opened a consultation April 2022 inviting feedback as to how we can increase the vitamin D status of the population, including the role of fortification. 

As the UK is not a nation of supplement users. (<20% take vit D supplements) fortification is a very viable route to increase intakes.5 

Even without mandatory regulation, companies have the opportunity to improve the nutritional profile of their products. It is important that this is done in a considered and credible way. 

Ensuring that thresholds are not exceeded  and the stated amount is there at the end of shelf-life and reaching the consumer at full efficacy. 

To achieve this, working with innovative, evidence-based ingredient suppliers can help companies optimise the nutritional value of their products and in turn help consumers to meet their requirements. 


[1] The world Health Organisation Food fortification (

[2] The Bread and flour regulation

[3] The Spreadable Fats regulation 1995

[4] . Jaaskelainen T, Itkonen ST, Lundqvist A, et al. (2017) The positive impact of general vitamin D food fortification policy on vitamin D status in a representative adult Finnish population: evidence from an 11-year follow-up based on standardized 25-hydroxyvitamin D data. Am J Clin Nutr 105, 1512–1520

[5] Darling AL, Blackbourn DJ, Ahmadi KR et al. (2018) Vitamin D supplement use and associated demographic and lifestyle factors in 8024 South Asians aged 40–69 years: analysis of the UK Biobank cohort. Public Health Nutrition 21: 2678–88.

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