We encourage mandatory rather than voluntary fortification because the best way to achieve the targeted health benefit is for all the specified grain to be fortified. Legislation can also effectively remove non-fortified products from the market. Mandatory legislation:
- Leads to country-wide fortification which creates the desired health impact. Country-wide fortification is usually not achieved without legislation.
- Enables regulatory authorities to monitor fortification for compliance with the standard. This helps ensure quality.
- Creates a business environment where all millers must fortify and therefore incur similar costs. This helps secure the sustainability of the program.
- Distributes the health benefits across the entire population consuming foods made with grains from industrial mills.
Effective legislation specifies the types of grain to be fortified, such as rice, wheat or maize. For wheat and maize flours, legislation details whether high or low extraction flours, or both, will be fortified. Legislation outlines how authorities will monitor fortification, and it includes penalties for non-compliance.
Legislation identifies who will pay taxes and duties related to the ongoing cost of fortification, including import duties, customs fees, inspection fees, provincial taxes, municipal dues, value added tax, and goods and services tax. Some countries eliminate such fees for fortification premix and equipment to lower the millers’ cost to fortify.
Experience with other staple foods supports the emphasis on mandatory fortification. Countries with legislation to fortify salt with iodine have a greater increase in household consumption of iodized salt than countries without legislation . And regulation that makes adding vitamin A to cooking oil mandatory is seen as the most effective way to reach the poorest consumers who are more concerned about pricing than branding .
We recommend that countries separate standards from legislation. The legislation requires fortification, while the standard outlines specific ranges of nutrients to be included. Legislation usually requires time-consuming government action when it needs modification. If the standard is a separate document, fortification levels can be more easily adapted as a country’s needs change.
For more information:
See this checklist of items that should be included in legislation, standards and monitoring documents produced by countries.
See more in this perspective article, Mandatory policy: Most successful way to maximize fortification's effect on vitamin and mineral deficiency, printed in the Indian Journal of Community Health, December 2014.
 Sustainable Elimination of Iodine Deficiency: Progress Since the 1990 World Summit for Children. UNICEF New York, 2008.
 Gradl, Christina, Building a Strategic Alliance for the Fortification of Oil and Other Staple Foods (SAFO). Cambridge,MA: The CSR Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, 2012.
A mandatory approach to fortification, with costing, monitoring and enforcement, and social marketing... is the best foundation for an effective, sustainable, and feasible food fortification program."
- Legal framework for food fortification: Examples from Vietnam and Indonesia