The Second Global Summit on Food Fortification was held on 6 November 2020. The Summit was virtual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and preceded the Micronutrient Forum. This high-level event served as a focal point of worldwide efforts to invigorate interest, awareness, and investment in large-scale food fortification and biofortification – two population-based interventions with enormous potential to reduce and prevent micronutrient deficiencies globally.
The Micronutrient Forum 5th Global Conference also went digital this year. The virtual Forum which was held from 9-13 November 2020 welcomed over 1000 researchers, program implementers and policy-makers from around the world to share new micronutrients research with a very diverse audience. MNF became a great platform for players from agriculture, manufacturing, processing and distribution, retail and culinary sectors, to widen the conversation and drive multi-sectoral innovation towards sustainable solutions for the triple burden of malnutrition.
Here are 10 highlights BioAnalyt team selected from these two events:
- Using digital precision tools, and harnessing mobile and digital technologies to ensure effective food fortification and biofortification are key in fighting malnutrition.
- It is critical to work with local small and medium-sized food producers to strengthen local food systems, and to encourage, enable, and empower rural communities to produce and consume nutritious foods.
- The method of defining micronutrient deficiency has a major implication on estimating the burden of micronutrient deficiency.
- Food systems are central to building strategies and working to achieve the SDGs. “Our first line of defence against infections like COVID-19 is nutritious food,” said Martin Frick, Deputy to Special Envoy for the 2021 UN. COVID-19 has compounded and exacerbated factors in the food system that were already known to be weak.
- Micronutrient deficiencies are the most widespread form of malnutrition, affecting hundreds of thousands of children each year. “Micronutrients may be micro, but they are mighty for the world’s children” – Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF. What children eat is influenced by their food systems. However, the emerging narrative about food systems seems to have ignored children. Delivery of essential nutrients to children through food systems can help reduce this widespread malnutrition.
- Maternal and child undernutrition cause 45% of deaths of children aged 0-59 months in LMIC. Multiple micronutrient supplements are efficacious, safe, and affordable nutrition-specific intervention to reduce negative birth outcomes.
- Nutritionists must work together with climate change experts to support the production of sustainable nutritious foods. “Nutrition gives a human face to the issue of climate change” – panel discussion on climate change, nutrition and humanitarian emergencies.
- Chefs are important stakeholders in the promotion and acceptance of nutritious foods. Chef DK, owner at Haoma Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, demonstrated in a vibrant video that fortified rice can be used in top-class kitchens and in homes with no taste difference to regular rice. Check out the video here.
- Rapid QA/QC testing devices, i.e. iChecks, make food fortification and monitoring activities easier, especially in resource strained settings. Automatic upload of QA/QC results from the testing devices to food fortification databases like FortifyMIS and national monitoring databases is an innovative digital solution to improve the food fortification landscape.
- The #DanceForNutrition was a major highlight of this year’s Micronutrient Forum. See the official MNF video here.