Background: Condiments, such as bouillon cubes are consumed consistently, and are thus suitable vehicles for iron fortification. For iron fortification it is technologically challenging to identify iron compounds that do not cause sensorial changes and are well-absorbed. Ferric pyrophosphate (FePP) is recommended for fortification of condiments. Tetra sodium pyrophosphate (NaPP), a common food additive, can form soluble complexes with iron and potentially increase iron bioavailability.Aim: To investigate the iron bioavailability from bouillon cubes fortified with either FePP only, FePP+NaPP, ferrous sulfate (FeSO4) only, or FeSO4+NaPP.
Bouillon cubes were intrinsically labeled with stable iron isotopes (2.5mg) and administered in a bouillon drink to 24iron-deficient Swiss women. Iron bioavailability was assessed by measuring iron incorporation into erythrocytes 2 weeks after consumption.
Iron bioavailability in humans increased by 46% (P < 0.005) comparing bouillons fortified with FePP only (4.4%) and bouillons fortified with FePP+NaPP (6.4%). Iron absorption from bouillons fortified with FeSO4 only and with FeSO4+NaPP was 33.8% and 27.8%, respectively.
Adding NaPP in the bouillon cube can improve the bioavailability of the iron from FePP as shown in humans. This may also be a promising approach in other food products.