“This food is enriched with vitamin A.” That food is fortified with iron.” You hear this over and over again in ads or see them on food labels. What do they mean? What is the difference between food fortification and enrichment? Learn about that in this article.
WHY FOOD ENRICHMENT AND FORTIFICATION?
During food processing, a lot of physical, chemical and biological changes occur. The extent of processing determines whether the food is minimally processed or ultra processed.
Some food processing techniques include washing, grinding, cooking, pressing, evaporation, drying, fermentation, and these are more on the traditional side of processing methods. Food irradiation, solvent extraction, pressure processing are on the modern side of processing methods.
After food has gone through processing, the nutrients in them might be affected in several respects. These nutrients are in two main categories, macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and lipids) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
To some extent, macronutrients are able to hold up during processing though they might change in structure and undergo other forms of degradation, which may not necessarily affect their functional and nutritional benefits adversely.
On the other hand, micronutrients can become completely degraded and lose their nutritional benefits during processing. Vitamins especially, are very sensitive to certain processing methods – those that involve medium to intense heat. Roasting, for instance, can deplete vitamins from a food product.
Due to this, food science experts have found ways to ensure that those nutrients lost are regained in some way for optimal nutritional benefits. Thus, there is enrichment of the food.
Food enrichment is when the nutrients lost during processing are added back into a particular food after it has gone through processing stages that might have depleted those nutrients. An example is adding back some vitamins lost during processing of tomatoes into tomato puree.
Historically, there some health issues that arose due to the population lacking certain nutrients in their diets. This called for normal foods to be tweaked in a way during processing, in order to incorporate those nutrients into them. This is where fortification comes in.
During food fortification, nutrients (mainly vitamins and minerals) which are not originally present in a particular food are added into that food. For instance, salt is fortified with iodine to give iodized salt. Bread may also be fortified with calcium. This provides an alternative way for people to have iodine and calcium (respectively) in their diet.
enriched food means, nutrients lost during processing have been added back into the food. While fortified food means nutrients that are not naturally in the food have been added to the food to enhance its nutritional benefits.
Both fortified and enriched foods have become an intimate part of our daily nutrition. They have so many benefits. Whether the foods which have been enriched or fortified are appropriate for consumption, is beyond the scope of this article. However, it is a fact that having nutrients in foods for health and vitality is right. In making your purchases, make sure to read food labels and understand the information on them to know exactly what you are purchasing.