The WHO Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition recommends to establish a dialogue with relevant national and international parties and form alliances and partnerships to expand nutrition actions with the establishment of adequate mechanisms to safeguard against potential conflicts of interest. In this light, the development of risk assessment, disclosure and management tools to safeguard against possible conflicts of interest in policy development and implementation of nutrition programmes [ ] in the context of food fortification is in progress.
The development of such tools is being conducted by a group of experts through: 1) identification of stages in fortification programmes involving governments and non-State actors where conflicts of interest may appear; and 2) classification of practices and methods that may help prevent and manage such conflicts.
There are several reasons why conflicts of interest can occur, including, insufficiently compelling arguments on cost-benefit of fortification, return-on-investment not being restored directly to the fortification investors, the low profit margins on staple foods and a lack of clear demand. In terms of mandatory fortification, an example of adverse outcome resulting from conflicts of interest might be fraudulent labelling of products not meeting the standards. For voluntary fortification, fortification might be used primarily as an approach for making profit from wealthier consumers, bypassing poorer groups most at risk of micronutrient deficiencies.
WHO provides scientific evidence-informed guidelines on nutrition interventions, including food fortification, to help Member States and their partners make informed decisions and regulate these products accordingly. This fortification process must occur with a due assessment of risks and benefits, including conflicts of interest risk assessment when engaging with Non-state actors.