Eradication of iron deficiency anemia through food fortification: the role of the private sector.
Delivering iron fortified foods that provide meaningful levels of bioavailable iron without altering the accepted appearance and taste of the product presents multiple challenges. Issues relating to food technology, product formulation, acceptance and efficacy evaluation, marketing and quality control must all be addressed. Procter & Gamble Company has developed a unique technology that stabilizes iron in an aqueous system. Utilizing this technology, a fortified powder drink has been developed that is easy to distribute, store and use and that delivers 20-30% of the U. S. RDA for iron, as well as significant amounts of vitamin A, iodine, zinc and vitamin C in a single serving. Acceptance, bioavailability and effectiveness trials have all produced positive results. This type of fortified product can contribute to alleviating iron deficiency but requires scaling up, packaging, quality control and distribution through normal trade channels and public institutions to have a sustainable impact. To be effective, a well-planned communications campaign should also accompany any major iron fortification program. Eradication of iron deficiency anemia can be done but requires a holistic approach that addresses multiple barriers and leverages the untapped expertise and strength of the alliance between public and private sectors.