A Critical Evaluation of Survey Results of Vitamin A and Fe Levels in the Mandatory Fortified Food Vehicles and Some Selected Processed Foods in Nigeria
A nationwide survey was conducted to ascertain the levels of Vitamin A and Fe in wheat and maize flours, sugar and vegetable oils and some flour-based processed foods to assess compliance to the Nigerian Industrial Standard. Samples were collected from factories and markets in all the 36 states of the six geopolitical zones of the country; comprising 94 (vegetable oil), 42 (sugar), 95 (flour) and 62 (processed foods) and subjected to vitamin A and iron analyses using HPLC and AAS respectively. Using a 50% acceptable range of the specified minimum standards as
basis for compliance, the results showed that only 14.9 – 20.2 % of the samples of vegetable oils analyzed fell within acceptable level (10,000-20,000 IU/kg) but there was no significant difference (p > 0.05) in the results obtained for the six zones. For sugar, only 11.9 – 16.7 % of the samples collected complied with the acceptable range of the standards
(12,500 – 25,000 IU/kg) but this varied significantly (p > 0.05) with the zones. The levels of compliance for vitamin A and Fe in flours were found to be 12.2 – 33.3 % and 1.0 – 21.0 % respectively at the acceptable range of 15,000 – 30,000 IU/kg and 34.6 – 46.8 mg/kg, respectively. In all cases, the compliance levels at the 50% range were only marginally higher than at the 30% WHO acceptable range. For the levels of these micronutrients in the processed foods, the values obtained ranged between 5,139 – 7,687IU/kg for vitamin A and 11.9 – 16.7 mg/kg for Fe. These results call for a critical and holistic review of the fortification strategy in Nigeria.
Keywords: Fortification, compliance, vitamin A, iron, flour, vegetable oils.