MAY 2020

Why Fortify Sugar?

Large-scale food fortification is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions to increase vitamin A intakes and reduce the risk of vitamin A deficiency. Experiences with food fortification suggest that it works best where food is 1) widely consumed by populations regardless of socioeconomic status, and 2) centrally manufactured or processed. Sugar is found in almost every household worldwide and consumed in relatively small, but consistent quantities of around 15-30 grams/person /day. Additionally, the sugar refining process is not easily accomplished at smallscale or within the home. These qualities make sugar an attractive and potentially effective food vehicle for vitamin A fortification.

Sugar was one of the first foods to be fortified in low- and middle-income countries to address micronutrient malnutrition. The technology was first implemented in Guatemala in 1975, primarily because other food vehicles that had been used for fortification were not widely consumed or sufficiently centralized in their processing. The success of the Guatemalan experiment, resulting in a reduction of vitamin A deficiency from 22% to 5% over only one year, triggered the replication of sugar fortification programs across several Latin American and African countries as a viable option. Today, there are nine countries who mandate vitamin A fortification of sugar (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) and many more that allow it on a voluntary basis. The cost of fortification averages US $9-10 per metric ton of fortified sugar produced.

Vitamin A beadlets adhered to sugar crystals Credit: DSM Fortification Basics

Vitamin A premix used for sugar fortification is typically retinyl palmitate encapsulated with gelatin or starch to improve stability. This Vitamin A premix is usually first mixed with unfortified sugar, antioxidants, vegetable oil, and other stabilizers to form a highly concentrated vitamin A sugar pre-blend. The pre-blend is then mixed with unfortified sugar in a known ratio through the use of a dosifier and the final fortified sugar is quality assured to consistently adhere to the national standards or specifications for sugar fortification.

iCheck Fluoro to Measure Vitamin A in Sugar

To ensure that vital micronutrients, like vitamin A, are at the right concentrations in fortified sugar, rapid portable methods of micronutrients measurement are necessary. You can use iCheck Fluoro to measure the vitamin A content in your fortified sugar samples. To ensure reliable results with iCheck Fluoro, fortified sugar samples require the right sample preparation protocol. This involves diluting weighed samples in distilled water or bottled water to facilitate solubilization of the vitamin A.

Here at BioAnalyt, we have compared results with iCheck to those of standards methods to ensure the reliability and accuracy of measurements.  There is a good correlation between iCheck and standard methods used. This shows that iCheck can perform similarly, while still providing results more easily, faster, and at 10% the cost of conventional lab methods.

Download our fortified sugar application paper here to learn more. The BioAnalyt team remains on stand-by to answer your technical questions, provide product support, or assist you with ordering iChecks and test kits. Contact us today!

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