Middle East Global Leadership in Wheat Flour Fortification
Wheat flour is the main cereal grain consumed in this region. In 1978 Saudi Arabia became one of the first countries in this region to require wheat flour fortification. In the 1990s, several more countries in the region began fortifying wheat flour with encouragement from international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Nutrition International (formerly Micronutrient Initiative).
Oman Flour Mills began fortifying flour with iron and folic acid on a trial basis for a regional workshop held in Oman in October 1996. By the time of the workshop, the flour was fortified successfully, making Oman the first country worldwide to achieve national-scale flour fortification with folic acid. Most countries with flour fortification mandates now include this essential B vitamin in their flour fortification standards. Countries which track the results have seen 30 to 70% declines in pregnancies affected by neural tube defects. See the report.
This region is also a global leader with another nutrient as Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are the first places to fortify flour with vitamin D. Iran is considering adding vitamin D to its standard for fortified wheat flour.
Click here for basic fortification information in Arabic.
The countries in this region and the legislative status of grain fortification are listed below. Also, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates fortify more than half of their industrially milled wheat flour even though it is not mandatory.
Click on the country name to see more information.