The Potential of Food Fortification to Add Micronutrients in Young Children and Women of Reproductive Age – Findings from a Cross-Sectional Survey in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Poor micronutrient intakes are a major contributing factor to the high burden of micronutrient deficiencies in Côte d’Ivoire. Large-scale food fortification is considered a cost-effective approach to deliver micronutrients, and fortification of salt (iodine), wheat flour (iron and folic acid), and vegetable oil (vitamin A) is mandatory in Côte d’Ivoire. A cross-sectional survey on households with at least one child 6–23 months was conducted to update coverage figures with adequately fortified food vehicles in Abidjan, the capital of and largest urban community in Côte d’Ivoire, and to evaluate whether additional iron and vitamin A intake is sufficient to bear the potential to reduce micronutrient malnutrition. Information on demographics and food consumption was collected, along with samples of salt and oil. Wheat flour was sampled from bakeries and retailers residing in the selected clusters. In Abidjan, 86% and 97% of salt and vegetable oil samples, respectively, were adequately fortified, while only 32% of wheat flour samples were adequately fortified, but all samples contained some added iron. There were no major differences in additional vitamin A and iron intake between poor and non-poor households. For vitamin A in oil, the additional percentage of the recommended nutrient intake was 27% and 40% for children 6–23 months and women of reproductive age, respectively, while for iron from wheat flour, only 13% and 19% could be covered. Compared to previous estimates, coverage has remained stable for salt and wheat flour, but improved for vegetable oil. Fortification of vegetable oil clearly provides a meaningful additional amount of vitamin A. This is not currently the case for iron, due to the low fortification levels. Iron levels in wheat flour should be increased and monitored, and additional vehicles should be explored to add iron to the Ivorian diet.