Fortification of traditional foods to mitigate hidden hunger - editorial

In the second of this new series of IUFoST editorial columns, Charles Aworh, IAFoST President looks at several key food processing needs for sustainable and healthy traditional foods in the African continent.

The vast array of diverse nutritious food products available in different parts of the world today is made possible by developments in food processing technologies. However, food and nutrition security remains one of the major challenges of the 21st century especially in developing countries where technological development is lagging behind. This is partly due to the capacity to preserve food. Apart from low agricultural productivity (crop yield per hectare and output per unit animal), high post-harvest food losses due to handling practices, inadequate food processing facilities and weak supply chain contribute to food and nutrition insecurity in developing countries. Regrettably, advances in food processing and preservation have not been advanced in the developing countries to impact food availability, stability, safety and nutrition as in the developed world.

 Micronutrient and other deficiencies (the hidden hunger), especially vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc deficiencies, are still widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with adverse consequences on productivity, mental development as well as maternal and infant health. While food processing may result in the loss of some specific essential nutrients, but it is most important operation in order to ensure a more stable product and to meet consumer preferences for products with better sensory properties. This is well reflected in flour milling as well as in blanching and heat processing to ensure food safety  also by using new food processing techniques such as high pressure processing, pulsed electric fields, and ultrasound, among others, that are designed to produce minimally processed, high quality foods with good nutrient retention. Food processing through the deactivation of antinutrients in food, microbial decontamination  and food fortification would actually enhance the nutritional quality of foods. Indeed food processing saves lives.

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All rights are reserved for IUFoST.  However, this column is available for reproduction, dissemination for the purposes of improving scientific knowledge around the safety, security of the world’s food supply with acknowledgement of source and author (IUFoST News Brief March 2023, Professor Charles Aworh,