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Nestle Reaffairms Commitment To Addressing Micronutrient Gaps With Food Fortification

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L-R: Dr Kanalio Yvonne Olaloku, Nestle Nutrition Institute Manager; Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainability Lead, Nestle Nigeria; Chioma Umeha, Team lead, Society for Media Advocacy on Health (SOMAH), and Kareem Saheed, Factory Engineering Manager, Nestle Nigeria, Agbara, during the SOMAH Capacity Building Workshop on “Fortification As A Strategy’ and Tour of Nestle Nigeria Plc, Agbara Factory, Ogun State recently 


In pursuance of its visions to address malnutrition in the country, Nestle Nigeria has continued to reaffirm its commitment in food fortification as a strategy to curb micronutrients deficiency in the sub region.


As world leader in Nutrition, Health and Wellness, Nestlé is helping to close nutrient gaps by fortifying over 95% of their products to provide at least 15% of daily needs in one serving , each product is fortified with at least one of the Big 4 nutrient deficiencies: Iron , Vit A , Iodine and Zinc and other minerals such as B Vitamins , Vitamin C , Calcium, Phosphorus etc.


Dr. Kanalio Olaloku of the Nestle Nutrition Institute Central West African Region disclosed this at a one day capacity building workshop , themed “Fortification As A Strategy” organised by Nestle Nigeria for members of Society For Media Advocacy On Health (SOMAH) at Nestle Nigeria’s ultra-modern factory at Agbara in Ogun State.


Delivering her presentation titled “Malnutrition in Nigeria – Fortification as Strategy for Improving Nutrition Indices,” Dr. Kanalio Olaloku said that food fortification and supplementation remain the key sources for improving nutrition indices.


She explained food fortification, as “ the practice of deliberately increasing the content of one or more micronutrients (i.e., vitamins and minerals) in a food or condiment to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health as well as increasing the nutritional content of staple foods, the addition of micronutrients can help to restore the micronutrient content lost during processing.”


However, she observed ,” there is a wide range of interventions available to tackle micronutrient inadequacies. For the long-term, interventions aimed toward increasing dietary diversification should be the central component of micronutrient deficiency prevention and control efforts.


“It must be recognized that these interventions will take time to show impact, and they might not provide the required amounts of all nutrients needed throughout the lifecycle. Until populations’ diets improve, and to meet the deficiencies that longer-term intervention will correct, food fortification and supplementation remain the primary sources for delivering key micronutrients to all risk populations.”


But she stressed that food fortification is the best option to boosting micronutrients, “Food fortification is widely identified as a cost-effective strategy for addressing micronutrient malnutrition at scale. In Nigeria, food fortification with a focus on vitamin A, Iron, zinc, iodine, and other micronutrient remains a major thrust of the effort to eliminate micronutrient malnutrition.”


She also pointed out that micronutrient deficiencies have been an enduring problem in Nigeria, “the prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency is estimated at 30 per cent and 70 per cent of children are anaemic. Deficiencies in iron, Vitamin A and iodine are the most common around the world, particularly in children and pregnant women.


“People in developing countries are far more likely to live in social and economic situation that exacerbate anaemia such as pregnant women, infants, and pre-school children. In Africa, 50 per cent and 40 per cent of pregnant women and pre-school children respectively are estimated to be anaemic.”


“In Nigeria, the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemic (IDA) among pre-school children is estimated at about 70 per cent. Iron deficiency is the largest micronutrient deficiency globally and, in our countries with devastating impact on children’s development and on women of childbearing age as a result of low awareness of our vulnerability to Iron deficiency anaemia and low consumption of iron-friendly diet – which also contributes to balanced eating.”


In effect, she said that Nestle is working assiduously to increase awareness of the importance of iron, the severe impact of Iron Deficiency Anemia, and the affordable and accessible solution in collaborative partnership with stakeholders namely: Federal Ministry of Health (FMH), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) to drive advocacy for better eating choices.


Dr. Kanalio also said the firm is involved in the education and training of Health Care Professional on practical interventions to reduce malnutrition, noting that 83 per cent of the regions have recorded 49 per cent decrease in malnutrition.


Amongst others who spoke at the event were Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communication/Public Affairs and Sustainability Lead; Haile Tesfalidet, Head, Research and Development (R&D); Audrey Essilfie, Nutritionist (R&D) Sub-Saharan Africa and Patricia Ekaba, Head, Corporate Communication/Public Affairs and Sustainability, Nestle, Central and West Africa.





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