Fortification means adding vitamins and minerals to foods. The government regulates the addition of certain nutrients to foods to ensure Canadians do not fall short. Some examples include:
Dietitians of Canada supports food fortification when there is a clear need for the public’s health. Foods should only be fortified when:
- It can help prevent illness
- Nutrients are hard to obtain from the food supply
- Not enough nutrients are being eaten by Canadians
Canadians benefit from the addition of vitamins or minerals to food for these purposes. However, if the public is not falling short of a certain nutrient, there is no need to fortify foods with it.
DC does not support discretionary fortification. Discretionary fortification would allow food manufacturers to add vitamins and minerals to foods that are not necessarily low in the Canadian diet. We are concerned that high fat, high calorie foods that may be fortified at the discretion of the food industry may replace healthier food choices. This could add to the obesity problem in Canada.
DC prepared a brief on this topic in 2009. We presented it to government and have shared it with many stakeholders.
Other national health organizations have supported our brief including the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian and Ontario Public Health Associations.
DC has written several follow-up letters to Health Canada and the Minister of Health on this topic
Our strong position, supported by other stakeholders was instrumental in Health Canada reconsidering a proposed policy that would permit discretionary fortification of foods by food manufacturers.
Between 2011 and 2014, DC responded to each of the consultations on Supplemented Foods and Caffeinated Energy Drinks, which are formerly foods within the NHP Directorate and are now under the authority of the Food Directorate and must comply with Food Regulations. These products contain high amounts of nutrient fortification, representing a category of foods with which DC does not agree are needed or helpful in the food supply.