ILSI Southeast Asia Region
Bringing you monthly news and information on nutrition and food safety issues relevant to our region
Nutrition, Food Safety and Health




Micronutrient Fortification: Science and Strategies for Public Health Improvement in Asia, International Congress of Nutrition (ICN) Granada, Spain, September 20, 2013  
The process of micronutrient fortification of food involves a variety of activities, from scientific research to new business development, to ensure the program is sustainable. The research work must provide scientific evidence to prove efficacy and effectiveness of the fortification programs and the implementation must garner political will and establish entrepreneurial business development strategies. The process requires multidisciplinary expertise and effective communications both vertically and horizontally.
Parallel symposium session PS5-61 ‘Micronutrient Fortification: Science and Strategies for Public Health Improvement in Asia’ on September 20, 2013 at the
International Congress of Nutrition (ICN) in Granada, Spain, will feature case studies in large-scale food fortification from Vietnam, Philippines and Cambodia. The session, supported by ILSI Southeast Asia Region, ILSI Japan CHP, ILSI Focal Point in China and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), will provide the opportunity to share scientific outcomes, lessons learnt on administrative policy, and business strategy adopted by the stakeholders to achieve the common goal of public health improvement.  More information on Parallel Symposium PS5-61 at ICN 2013 is available here.

Regional Conference on Micronutrient Fortification of Foods, Bangkok, October 10-11, 2013


Micronutrient deficiencies continue to present a significant challenge to public health throughout Asia, particularly in vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, young children and the elderly. The micronutrient fortification of foods is an on-going strategy adopted by governments in collaboration with NGOs and the food industry to address this issue. Micronutrient fortification initiatives in Southeast Asia are evolving as regulations and technologies surrounding fortification evolve, and include both mandatory and voluntary fortification. There remains a wide diversity in fortification levels, food vehicles, level of regulatory control, and the actual status of micronutrient deficiencies in some countries in Asia is not well established.  

The upcoming Regional Conference on Micronutrient Fortification of Food, in Bangkok from October 10-11, 2013, is organized by ILSI Southeast Asia Region, in collaboration with the Food Science and Technology Association of Thailand (FoSTAT). It will provide an update on micronutrient deficiency in Southeast Asia and address issues related to the micronutrient fortification of foods, including benefits and regulatory considerations. The conference will also feature case studies on large-scale micronutrient fortification programs from around Asia and discuss future strategies to address micronutrient deficiency. More information on the conference is available


EURRECA - Evidence-Based Methodology for Deriving Micronutrient Recommendations

Micronutrient recommendations represent the amount judged necessary to avoid deficiency in virtually all individuals within a population group. There is currently no standard approach for deriving micronutrient recommendations, and large variations exist across Europe, causing confusion among consumers, food producers and policy-makers. More aligned information could influence dietary behaviours and potentially lead to a healthier population. Therefore, dietary reference values based on scientific evidence are essential for the development of public health nutrition policies.

EURRECA (EURopean micronutrient RECommendations Aligned), funded by the European Commission and coordinated by ILSI Europe, was a Network of Excellence that developed methodologies to standardise the process of setting micronutrient recommendations. The EURRECA Network, which included 35 partners comprising more than 200 scientists from 17 European countries working for over 5 years, has now published the final set of papers documenting their outputs, as a special issue of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. The papers are available here.

Vitamin D Fortification: Implications for Nutrition Programming in Southeast Asia
Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is being found more commonly in Southeast Asia, despite access to regular sunshine, due to a reduction in exposure to sunlight primarily caused by lifestyle changes. In addition, there is low consumption of foods naturally containing vitamin D in this region. A recent review by Yang et al estimated, based on dietary intakes available from several Southeast Asian countries, whether food fortification has the potential to increase daily vitamin D intakes among women of reproductive age and other targeted groups. The review showed that fortification of widely consumed foods, such as edible oil, with Vitamin D could contribute to improved Vitamin D status in Southeast Asian countries, and recommended that more nationally-represented studies of Vitamin D status be conducted in the region. The study is available here.
Iodine: Importance During Pregnancy and Impact of Mandatory Fortification
Iodine has been shown to be important for fetal brain development, as a component of thyroid hormones. The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) conducted among 1040 mother-child pairs in the UK, was used to assess whether iodine deficiency in pregnancy was associated with adverse effects on child cognition. Recently published results show that after adjusting for confounders, children aged 8-9 years of women with an iodine-to-creatinine ratio of less than 150 μg/g (WHO criteria for iodine deficiency in pregnancy) during the first trimester of pregnancy were more likely to have scores in the lowest quartile for verbal IQ, reading accuracy, and reading comprehension than were those of mothers with ratios of 150 μg/g or more. A copy of the study can be found here.

In Australia, mandatory iodization of salt used in the production of bread was introduced in 2009 to address a population-level mild iodine deficiency, that resulted due to a combination of factors including food grown in soil that is iodine-deplete, low consumption of iodine-rich seafood and the reduction of use of iodophors as cleaning agents in dairy production. A recent study by Charlton et al monitored the iodine status of pregnant women since the introduction of mandatory iodization of salt in bread and found that median urinary concentrations improved and reached sufficiency in 2011-2012. However, the authors noted, knowledge of the benefits and sources of iodine intake during pregnancy remained poor amongst this group, suggesting the need for public health education. The full study is available here.

A further study in Tasmanian school children aged 8-13 years by DePaoli et al compared urinary iodine concentrations in 2011, after mandatory iodization of salt in bread, with levels from studies conducted before fortification and during voluntary fortification. Median urinary iodine concentrations in 2011 were significantly higher than those recorded before fortification and during voluntary fortification, and showed that iodine status in this group had reached optimal levels. The study is available here.

Upcoming Events

September 20
Micronutrient Fortification: Science and Strategies for Public Health Improvement in Asia
Granada, Spain (Parallel Symposium Session at ICN 2013)

October 10-11
Regional Conference on Micronutrient Fortification of Food
Bangkok, Thailand

November 12
Update on Vitamin D in Human Health
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

November 19-21
ASEAN Food Consumption and Exposure Assessment Workshop
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
November 27-28
8th Seminar on Nutrition Labeling, Claims and Communication Strategies
Jakarta, Indonesia


December 3
Gut feelings – what can we learn from recent research on gut microbiota?
Brisbane, Australia


For more information on ILSI Southeast Asia Region activities, please click the link here to view the latest edition of our Science InSight Newsletter.

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