Cabinet has endorsed the mandatory food fortification programme being spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in a bid to reduce nutrient deficiency affecting a significant part of the population.

The Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Dr Chris Mushohwe said food fortification is not entirely new to Zimbabwe as salt has been fortified with iodine since 1999 to reduce incidences of goitre.

“For the benefit of citizens, the government hereby reiterates that food fortification does not involve any addition of drugs and medicines to food but only entails the addition of fortificants (vitamins and minerals) to food. Food fortification is therefore not by any means food adulteration.  Mandatory food fortification will be implemented through selected food vehicles such as cooking oil, sugar, wheat flour and commercially milled maize meal,” said Dr Mushohwe.

Sugar is being fortified with vitamin A while cooking oil will be combined with vitamin A and D; and wheat flour and maize meal with vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, iron and zinc.

According to the 2012 Zimbabwe National Micronutrient Survey, 25 percent of children under aged 6 to 69 months were stunted, while 72 percent had iron deficiency.

Thirty-one percent of children in the age group were anaemic.

The survey showed 24 percent of women aged 15 to 49 were vitamin A deficient while 62 percent were iron deficient.