The usage of staple foods such as sugar, oil or flour as vehicles for vitamin A has proven very effective in Central America. A public private partnership was established between vitamin A producers, local millers and sugar manufacturers, as well as government authorities and regional NGOs to bring fortified foods to the local markets.
To reach this goal fortification capacity is developed in the respective countries by aligning all stakeholders. Main element of the projects are workshops that bring together industry, authorities and NGOs followed by technical support visits to individual companies. Producers are enabled to use fortification equipment and authorities are equipped with portable, easy-to-use test kits to control micronutrient levels. This way a broad supply with fortified foods can be established to ensure that also the poorest population groups are reached.By using staple foods as a vehicle consumption patterns do not have to change and existing distribution channels can be utilized.
The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in mothers and children has declined from levels of over 50% to below 10% since the supplementation and fortification program is in place. For mothers vitamin A is of particular importance as it is passed on to the child via breastmilk. A good vitamin A supply of mothers ensures that infants are adequately supplied within the first 1000 days.
Staple food fortification is an effective measure to fight micronutrient deficiencies in Central America. A public private partnership involving multiple stakeholders can build capacity and ensure the success of a fortification program.