South African millers must fortify flour and maize meal with a blend of vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, following new legislation introduced this week to improve malnutrition in the country.
Millers will be required to fortify white and brown bread flour and maize meal, one of the main grains, with vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, iron and zinc.
"Food fortification is essential to address some of the major challenges posed by poverty and malnutrition to the growth of our nation. Therefore we will do everything in our power to ensure that these guidelines are implemented and adhered to," health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang told the national press.
The South African government has received a grant worth US$2.8 million from the WHO-led Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) to support a food fortification programme over the next three years.
The funding will be used to support the implementation of the programme, helping millers to comply with the new requirements.
Most millers have however already begun fortifying their bread and maize since announcement of the new regulations in April, according to reports.
South Africa is one of four countries to receive funding under the first wave of GAIN grants. China, Morocco and Vietnam will also receive support this year to improve the nutritional value of their food supplies.
Between 100 and 140 million children in the world are vitamin A deficient, but providing adequate vitamin A in areas of deficiency can improve a child's chances of survival by as much as 25 per cent, according to WHO.