Iron Fortification

Iron Powder for Iron Fortification

Instant noodles – a long-term fortification success

The fortification of staple foods is an important means of delivering iron to combat IDA around the world. Thailand’s voluntary program to fortify instant noodle seasoning powder with vitamin A, iodine and iron began in 1996. Today, 60-70% of all instant noodles sold are triple fortified.

Iron deficiency has risen sharply among Sweden’s teenage girls

Iron deficiency is not only an issue for developing nations – it remains a persistent problem in many industrialized countries. A Swedish study highlights the increase in iron deficiency among teenage girls since iron fortification of flour was withdrawn in 1994.

Pakistan makes progress on path to enrichment

IDA in Pakistan is being tackled by a number of flour enrichment and fortification projects in the country’s four provinces. Expansion of an enrichment project in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) is the latest sign of progress.

Specialist in iron fortification

Our ‘enrichment technology’ and specialist knowledge in the field enables us to produce purpose designed elemental iron products for all types of flour and cereal. Iron fortification represents an important and growing part of our business activities. Our research and development capability is clearly focused on producing the very best iron powders for premixers, millers and people, now and in the future.

Choice of iron fortificant

Technically, iron is the most challenging micronutrient to add to foods, because the iron compounds that have the best bioavailability tend to be those that interact most strongly with food constituents to produce undesirable organoleptic changes. When selecting a suitable iron compound as a food fortificant, the overall objective is to find the one that has the greatest absorbability, i.e. the highest relative bioavailability1 (RBV) compared with ferrous sulfate, yet at the same time does not cause unacceptable changes to the sensory properties (i.e. taste, color, texture) of the food vehicle. Cost is usually another important consideration.

Elemental iron powders are often used to fortify cereals and some other dry foods, but the bioavailabilities of the different forms of elemental iron is very dependent on the size, shape and surface area of the iron particles. (characteristics which are governed by the manufacturing process), as well as the composition of the meals in which it is consumed. The relative bioavailability of some common iron powders are shown below.

Product Code Product Description Iron% RBVA BioavailabilityB
CIPMS Carbonyl Iron Powder MS
99+ 20 Medium
IRON325 H-Reduced Super fine/ dust 97+ 50 High C
IRON195SP Spherical Iron
(Free flow, low dust)
99+ 24 Medium
IRON100 H-Reduced iron powder
(easy flow)
99+ 50 High C
S1001 Atomized Steel (easy flow) 99+ 8 Low
FS16H Ferrous sulfate. 7H20 20 100 high

A: Relative bioavailability or Relative Biological Value (RBV) is estimated based on published reports and adjusted based on the particle size and shape. For example the bioavailability of H-Reduced iron powder is reported to be 13% up to 148%. In the above table we have estimated 50%. Some data may be based on experiments performed on rats.

B: The comparison column of Bioavailability is an estimate provided for your convenience. It is ultimately the responsibility of the user or manufacturer to perform necessary tests and determine the applicability of the product or the information provided in this page.

C: IRON325 and IRON100 have high surface area compared to other elemental irons, thus a high dissolution rate. Surface area and dissolution rate, are both highly predictive of RBV.

1. Iron deficiency anemia: assessment, prevention, and control. A guide for program managers. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2001 (WHO/NHD/01.3).
2. Rosales FJ et al. Iron deficiency in young rats alters the distribution of vitamin A between plasma and liver and between hepatic retinol and retinyl esters. Journal of Nutrition, 1999, 129:1223–1228.

Reference: World Health Organization

Guidelines for iron fortification of cereal food staples. Washington, DC, Sharing United States Technology to Aid in the Improvement of Nutrition, 2001.

Iron fortification and iron supplementation are cost-effective interventions to reduce iron deficiency in four subregions of the world.

Baltussen R, Knai C, Sharan M. J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2678-84. Review.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]