Vitamins and minerals can only be added to food if permissions exist in the Food Standards Code. The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation has agreed that food manufacturers can add vitamins and minerals to food in response to an actual or potential population health need. This is outlined in the Fortification of Food with Vitamins and Minerals Policy Guideline.
Mandatory fortification is when food manufacturers are required to add certain vitamins or minerals to a specified food or foods. These are added in response to a significant public health need, e.g. in Australia only, manufacturers must add vitamin D to edible oil spreads (e.g. margarine); and thiamin and folic acid to wheat flour used for making bread.
The New Zealand Government has introduced voluntary folic acid fortification. Visit the Ministry for Primary Industries website for more information.
Mandatory fortification standards
Standard 2.1.1 - Cereals and Cereal Products requires the addition of thiamin and folic acid to wheat flour for making bread (Australia only) and the replacement of salt with iodised salt in bread.
Standard 2.4.2 - Edible Oil Spreads requires the addition of vitamin D to margarines and spreads (Australia only).
Voluntary fortification allows food manufacturers to choose what vitamins and minerals they add to food, as long as there are permissions in the Code. For example breakfast cereals are allowed to be fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals. The amounts that can be added are also regulated.
Voluntary fortification standards
Most vitamin and mineral permissions can be found in Standard 1.3.2 – Vitamins and Minerals but other standards also permit vitamin and mineral addition.
Standard 2.6.2 –Non-Alcoholic Beverages and Brewed Soft Drinks permits manufacturers to add fluoride to bottled water.
Standard 2.6.4 – Formulated Caffeinated Beverages permits manufacturers to add certain vitamins to formulated caffeinated beverages.
Standard 2.10.2 – Salt and Salt Products permits iodine to be added to salt.
Standard 2.10.3 – Chewing Gum gives permission to add calcium to chewing gum.
There are also standards in Part 2.9 of the Code that permit or require vitamins and minerals to be added to ‘Special Purpose Foods’. Examples of these types of foods include infant formula, meal replacements and supplementary foods.
Manufacturers must list added vitamins or minerals in the ingredient list on the food label.
If the manufacturer chooses to make a nutrition content or health claim about an added vitamin or mineral, then the amount of the vitamin or mineral present in the food needs to be included in the nutrition information panel. Conditions for making nutrition content and health claims about vitamins and minerals are provided in Standard 1.2.7 – Nutrition, Health and Related Claims and Standard 1.2.8 – Nutrition Information Requirements. If the fortified food is unpackaged, or is made and/or packaged at the point of sale, then this information must be displayed in connection with the food or be provided to the purchaser upon request.
Folic acid fortification