Adding vitamins and minerals to food
Vitamins and minerals can only be added to food if permissions exist in the Food Standards Code. The Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation has agreed that food manufacturers can add vitamins and minerals to food in response to an actual or potential population health need. This is outlined in the Fortification of Food with Vitamins and Minerals Policy Guideline.
Mandatory fortification is when food manufacturers are required to add certain vitamins or minerals to a specified food or foods. These are added in response to a significant public health need, e.g. in Australia only, manufacturers must add vitamin D to edible oil spreads (e.g. margarine); and thiamin and folic acid to wheat flour used for making bread in Australia.
The New Zealand Government has deferred implementing mandatory folic acid fortification until 2012. Visit the Ministry for Primary Industries for more information.
Voluntary fortification allows food manufacturers to choose what vitamins and minerals they add to food, as long as there are permissions in the Code. For example breakfast cereals are allowed to be fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals. The amounts that can be added are also regulated.
Voluntary fortification standards
Most vitamin and mineral permissions can be found in Standard 1.3.2 – Vitamins and Minerals but other standards also permit vitamin and mineral addition.
Standard 2.6.4 – Formulated Caffeinated Beverages, permits manufacturers to add certain vitamins to formulated caffeinated beverages.
Standard 2.6.2 –Non-Alcoholic Beverages and Brewed Soft Drinks, permits manufacturers to add fluoride to bottled water.
Standard 2.10.3 – Chewing Gum, gives permission to add calcium to chewing gum.
Standard 2.10.2 – Salt and salt products, permits iodine to be added to salt.
There are also standards in Part 2.9 of the Code that permit or require vitamins and minerals to be added to ‘Special Purpose Foods’. Examples of these types of foods include infant formula, meal replacements and supplementary foods.
Mandatory fortification standards
Standard 2.1.1 – Cereals and Cereal Products requires the addition of thiamin and folic acid to wheat flour for making bread (Australia only) and the replacement of salt with iodised salt in bread.
Standard 2.4.2 – Edible Oils Spreads requires the addition of vitamin D to margarines and spreads (Australia only).
Manufacturers must list added vitamins or minerals in the ingredients list on the labels of food. Manufacturers may choose to make a nutrition claim about an added vitamin or mineral. If so, and the total amount in the food is more than 10 per cent of the regulated reference value (e.g. the recommended dietary intake) for that vitamin or mineral then the amount has to be included in the nutrition information panel. Unpackaged food or food that is made and/or packaged at the point of sale is not required to have label information but this information may be available on request.