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The Flour Millers Tool Kit on Fortification

Table of Contents
Section 1: Introduction to Flour Fortification
Section 2: Procuring Materials & Setting up the Mill
Section 3: On the Production Line
Section 4: Assuring Quality Control
Section 5: Keys to Effective Marketing of Fortified Flour
Section 6: Cost Issues

Section 1: Introduction to Flour Fortification

Reasons for Flour Fortification
Overview of the Fortification Process
Vitamins & Minerals Used in Flour Fortification
Impact of Flour Fortification on Public Health
Benefits to Mills from Fortifying Flour
Understanding Fortification Regulations
Ensuring Consumer Satisfaction of Fortified
Products Section Summary

Seven Reasons to Fortify Flour

(Slide 1 of 2)
1. Fortifying commonly eaten foods, like wheat flour, is an effective and
economical way to ensure that national populations are provided with
essential vitamins and minerals.
2. These vitamins and minerals help prevent nutritional deficiencies such as
iron deficiency anemia, and some health problems and birth defects.
3. Flour an ideal medium for fortification, because it is a staple food. More
people can be reached by fortifying the flour at the mill than by fortifying only
flour products.
4. Fortification can significantly improve the health of a national population

Seven Reasons to Fortify Flour

(Slide 2 of 2)


Fortifying flour can be beneficial for the national economy. Healthy

citizens lead to increased productivity.


The World Bank estimates that vitamin and mineral deficiencies as a whole
depress GDP by as much as 5%. Fortification of key staple foods with
specific vitamins and will help eliminate these deficiencies for as little as
0.15% of GDP- the approximate fortification cost.


Flour millers can play a major part in solving these nutritional problems by
adding key vitamins and minerals. These nutrients produce a better
product, they can do so at low or no cost, and they help wholesalers bring
better products to their customers.

Overview of Flour Fortification

(Slide 1 of 4)

Fortification is the process of adding

vitamins and minerals to flour during the
milling process, resulting in a higher
quality, more nutritious product.
Vitamins and minerals are typically
added to flour during the milling process
via small amounts of a powdered premix.
More information about premixes is
found later in this toolkit.

Overview of Flour Fortification

(Slide 2 of 4)

Prior to milling, whole grain wheat

contains significant levels of calories,
protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber in
addition to many vitamins and minerals.
Most of the vitamins and minerals are in
the bran and the germ of the wheat.
When flour is milled, the bran and the
germ are removed and discarded, leaving
mostly pure, white endosperm. This
means that many of the vitamins and
minerals are removed leaving, a product
that is less nutritious than whole grain

Overview of Flour Fortification

(Slide 3 of 4)

The table shows the degree to which nutrients are reduced during milling. 100 grams/day of
whole wheat flour supplies 22% of the United States Recommended Daily Allowance for iron.
Refined flour has less than one fourth of this amount (less than 6% of the RDA

Overview of Flour Fortification

(Slide 4 of 4)
Fortification can restore to milled flour the natural levels of vitamins and minerals
found in the wheat kernel or whole wheat flour. This process is commonly referred to
as enrichment or restoration. It is one type of fortification.
Fortification can also add vitamins and minerals in amounts higher than those naturally
present in the whole wheat kernel. This type of fortification is very common and is used
where the populations consuming flour and flour products are deficient in one or more
of the vitamins and minerals added.
Another type of fortification used to help prevent deficiencies adds additional vitamins
and minerals that are not naturally present in wheat. Examples include vitamin A,
calcium and vitamin B12.

Vitamins & Minerals Used in Flour Fortification

Common minerals and vitamins added to flour
Folic Acid
Other B vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin)
In some countries Vitamin A, Calcium and B12 are added.

How to decide on premix ingredients:

Generally, these decisions are made with the help of nutrition and research
organizations that are involved in nutrition standards and problems of the population.
Decisions about which vitamins and minerals will be added to wheat flour depend on
a number of factors
-- existing government regulations
-- dietary needs and deficiencies in the population
-- the cost of different premix combinations
-- results of research aimed at determining vitamin and mineral deficiencies
More information to help guide decision making on which vitamins and minerals
should be added to flour are found later in this tool kit.

Impact of Flour Fortification on Public Health

(Slide 1 of 3)

Fortification is a success
Some countries, including the United States and Canada have successfully fortified
flour with vitamins and minerals since the early 1940s. As a result, several vitamin
deficiencies have been virtually eliminated in these countries.
The chart below shows reduced deaths from pellagra (niacin deficiency) in the United States since
flour fortification began there.

Number of deaths










Impact of Flour Fortification on Public Health

(Slide 2 of 3)

Impact of fortified flour has been measured

The fortification process has a been tested again and again around the world, as
successful fortification programs have been implemented in many countries.

In the United States, folic acid fortification is estimated to have an annual economic
benefit of between $312 million and $425 million. The net reduction in direct costs
are estimated to be between $88 million and $145 million per year.

In a Canadian study of 38,000 women aged 18 to 42 years, there was a significant

improvement in folate status after fortification with folic acid began. Folic acid, the
form of folate used in fortification, helps reduce the incidence of neural tube birth

Impact of Flour Fortification on Public Health

(Slide 3 of 3)
Through iron fortification of wheat and corn flours, Venezuela has lowered its rates
of iron deficiency and anemia.








Iron Deficiency


Benefits to Mills from Fortifying Flour

Flour fortification is an opportunity for mills to:
improve product quality by restoring vitamins
and minerals to original wheat levels and
improving its nutritional state
raise the companys profile by helping create
an image as innovative and on the cutting
edge of milling technology
expand market share and consumer brand
loyalty through improved products
contribute to the health and productivity of
the national population and receive
recognition as a good corporate citizen

Understanding Fortification Regulations

(Slide 1 of 4)
Explore national status and requirements
Mills owners and management start by learning the status of existing
regulations related to fortification.
Mills owners and management can consult with the government authorities
on what is required and what is permitted regarding fortification.
General information on flour fortification regulations:
By July 2009, 57 countries had set flour fortification standards or
customary fortification practices.
Regulations differ widely by country.
Some governments require mandatory fortification with certain vitamins
and minerals. Others allow fortification based on decisions by the milling
A government may also decide to prohibit adding certain vitamins and
minerals to flour.

Understanding Fortification Regulations

(Slide 2 of 4)
Fortification Status March 2011

No Flour Fortification

The map indicates countries that have fortification regulations

or are working toward implementing regulations.

Understanding Fortification Regulations

(Slide 3 of 4)
For millers in countries without fortification regulation:

Setting Standards
National flour fortification standards are
most often generated by technical
They often include:
government health specialists
standards specialists
millers and often bakers and major
flour product manufacturers.
International donors may support
work by such groups.

In a country without current standards or

regulations on flour fortification, a mill
wanting to fortify flour needs to determine
whether flour fortification is allowed.
A special permit will need to obtained, or
the regulations will need to be changed, in
the very few countries that specifically
prohibit adding anything to flour.
Millers also need to learn about any
general fortification regulations which
apply to all foods. Such general
regulations for all industries fortifying food
products should also be observed by a mill
fortifying wheat flour.

Understanding Fortification Regulations

(Slide 4 of 4)
Regional fortification guidelines
Some regions where countries have similar basic food consumption practices have
established regional fortification guidelines as a basis for country specific regulations. Such
regulations facilitate inter-country active trade of wheat flour. Where the same premix is
used nationally or in a region, procurement for mills may be easier and often at lower cost.

Basic Recommendations for Flour Fortification

Always include iron, folic acid and zinc in any wheat flour
or maize meal fortification program.

Addition of riboflavin is recommended.

Addition of thiamin in rice consuming countries and niacin

in maize consuming countries is recommended.

Addition of other vitamins and minerals is optional.

Ensuring Consumer Satisfaction

(slide 1 of 4)

In general, any good quality fortified wheat or wheat product should not change
consumer acceptability of the fortified food. Ideally, fortification should be invisible
to the consumer.
If possible, there should be no detectable difference in the appearance, or
sensory properties of the fortified product, and the price should only be marginally

Characteristics to be controlled to help ensure consumers acceptance and

Color and Appearance
Flavor and Aroma
Shelf Life
Taste and Mouth feel
Sensory Testing

Ensuring Consumer Satisfaction

(slide 2 of 4)
Color and Appearance

The visual appearance of fortified flour and of foods products made from fortified flour
make a strong impression on the customer. Any change from unfortified flour should
be minimal.
At the current fortification levels used in wheat, there is no adverse impact. Although
premix is generally a light yellow color, the very small amounts added cause little
change in color of flour.
Elemental iron powders may cause a slight darkening of flour.
High levels of riboflavin and folic acid can cause a slight yellowing.
Experience has shown that these changes are accepted when consumers learn that
the slight difference is caused by a vitamin or mineral once all flour is similarly treated


Fortified flour

Ensuring Consumer Satisfaction

(slide 3 of 4)
Flavor and Aroma
Like color and appearance, the flavor and aroma of fortified
flour should not be different from unfortified flour and
Shelf Life
Generally, the addition of vitamins and minerals to wheat
flour should not reduce the normal or expected shelf life of
the flour.
Any reduction in shelf life can result in lost products and
reduced consumer acceptance of the food. Rancid products
have a slightly soapy mouth feel and a distinctive unpleasant
Texture and Mouth feel
Product texture and mouth feel should be the same.
The premix ingredients decided upon should take expected shelf life into account.

Ensuring Consumer Satisfaction

(slide 4 of 4)

Sensory properties preserved

Extensive testing and experience prove that
fortification can be done without adversely affecting
the sensory properties in final products.
These include:




Instant Noodles


Unique products should be tested

Flour-based foods products unique to different regions of the world should be tested
prior to starting a general fortification program to insure that products are acceptable
to consumers.
(China has successfully fortified flour for steam bread and home made noodles after initial testing.)

Section 1 Summary
Compelling reasons to begin fortifying flour:
Fortifying flour can help improve the health of a national population by providing
essential vitamins and minerals lacking in daily diets.
Flour fortification can be beneficial for the miller:
Helps to improve product quality
May increase market share and brand loyalty
Careful consideration of consumers expectations can be used so that consumers
accept fortified flour and it becomes part of their daily diet.
The many successful fortification programs implemented around the world offer
models on which to base new programs

Summary of Fortification Strategies

The general fortification strategies used in each country should be based on the public health
and economic situation. Usually a team of experts will determine which strategy is best.
Examples of strategies commonly used:
1. Restoration/Enrichment The level of each nutrient in the unprocessed food must be
known if the criteria is based wholly or partially on restoring lost nutrients, which was the
original criteria for cereal enrichment in the United States and Canada.
2. Balancing dietary requirements It is desirable to balance the levels of nutrients
contained in the fortified product and the dietary requirements. Folic acid is an exception to
this because higher levels are often added to prevent more neural tube birth defects.
3. Making up for dietary deficiencies This strategy makes up all or part of the difference
between the dietary requirement for a nutrient and its average consumption by the general or
target population. This calculation depends on which dietary requirement values are used. It
can also be difficult to find good data on nutrient intakes for some target populations.

Summary of Millers Role in Standards

The process of establishing standards and associated regulations is complex and

time consuming. It should always involve representatives from the medical
community, the milling and baking industry and the government (usually through
the ministry of health and government standards organizations). Others involved
may include consumer groups, educational/research institutions, interested NGOs
and international and bilateral specialists.

An alliance of these groups needs to assess what is needed and what is feasible.
To assure acceptance of the fortified products and compliance with regulations,
major stakeholder groups must agree to the final regulations.

Cost is always a major factor in decisions about standards. Cost often restricts the
types and levels of vitamins and minerals to include. High costs make it very
difficult to require vitamin A and calcium. Costs also makes it more practical to add
a premix of other minerals and vitamins that are needed by the population, because
their addition to the premix involves very low additional costs.

End of Section One

Return to Table of Contents
Go to first slide of this Section

Section 2A

Procuring Materials and Setting Up the Mill


Issues to Consider
Choosing a Micronutrient
Choosing an Addition

Issues to Consider
Choose high quality wheat:

Nothing added during vitamin and

mineral fortification will improve the
mixing and baking performance of poor
quality wheat.

If low quality wheat is fortified, consumers

will likely blame the poor quality of the
fortified flour on the added vitamins and
minerals. This bad first impression may
lead them to reject all fortified flour.

Issues to Consider
Phytic acid that is naturally in grains inhibits the absorption of iron, zinc
and other minerals by the human body.

Whole grain wheat contains nearly 1% phytic acid. Milling removes phytic
acid in flour by 60% to 90% depending on the extraction rate. These lower
levels improve the absorption of minerals.

As a general rule, the lower the level of ash in the flour, the lower the phytic
acid content.

When yeast is combined with flour in bread making, it further lowers the level
of phytic acid.

Vitamins and minerals are absorbed best from white refined wheat flour with
an ash content of below 0.80%. Higher extraction rates of flour can and
should be fortified if consumers prefer higher extraction flours.

To counteract the effect of phytic acid and maximize the benefits of

fortification, flours of different extraction rates need to be fortified with
different forms and amounts of premix fortificants.

Phytic Acids Effect on Mineral Absorption

(slide 1 of 4)


Whole cereal grains contain phytic acid,

which forms insoluble compounds with
minerals, particularly calcium, iron and
zinc. These compounds are difficult to
absorb in the body.

Much of the phytic acid is located in
the outer layer of the wheat between
the endosperm and the bran. Much of
the phytic acid is removed in the
milling process, so highly refined white
flour contains lower levels of phytic
acid compared to high extraction whole
wheat flours.


3 2



Phytic Acids Effect on Mineral Absorption

(slide 2 of 4)

Yeast and flour provide the enzyme

phytase which destroys most of the
phytic acid during dough fermentation
in the bread making process. More
than 70% of the phytic acid can be
hydrolyzed; the longer the
fermentation and the lower the pH,
the more phytic acid is removed.

Phytic acid therefore is of most

concern when high extraction flour is
used to make unleavened bread, or in
non-fermented flour products like
noodles. This, however, is a common
use of wheat in many countries of the

Phytic Acids Effect on Mineral Absorption

(slide 3 of 4)

If the molar ratio of phytic acid to iron is less than 6 for normal
populations, iron will be absorbed. This is the case for yeast
leavened bread made from white flour.
If greater than 6 for normal populations, iron will not be well
absorbed. This may be the case for noodles made from white
(low extraction) flour.
An ideal ratio of less than 1 ensures absorption by any
population. This will not be possible for non-fermented flour
products like chapattis, noodles and steamed bread.
You can lower the ratio by
Increasing iron (through fortification) but you can only add so
much iron.
Lowering phytic acid (through milling, fermentation or adding
the enzyme phytase).

Phytic Acids Effect on Mineral Absorption

(slide 4 of 4)

Two compounds prevent phytic acid from

inhibiting iron absorption:
ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
sodium EDTA

Unfortunately, ascorbic acid is destroyed in

most baking processes. It is also expensive
to add.
Sodium EDTA, however, is not destroyed.

The Addition of Ascorbic Acid

Adding ascorbic acid to enhance iron absorption from fortified food is
a widely-used practice for processed foods, but not for wheat flour
due to stability issues.
The main difficulties with adding ascorbic acid as a food fortificant are
that substantial amounts can be lost during storage and preparation,
and compared to other nutrients, it is relatively expensive.
When ascorbic acid is used to enhance iron absorption, it should be
added in a 6:1 ascorbic acid:iron weight ratio. A higher ascorbic
acid:iron ratio of 12:1 can be recommended for foods with high levels
of phytic acid. In most studies, the 6:1 ratio increased iron absorption
2 to 3 fold in adults and children.

Many millers add ascorbic acid as a bread improving agent.

Unfortunately, it must be oxidized in the dough to the dehydroscorbic
acid form for it to function in that manner, but that form does not
provide iron absorption enhancement activity.

The Addition of Sodium EDTA

Sodium EDTA is stable during processing and storage. It works by
chelating iron at the low pH levels of the stomach to prevent it from
binding to phythic acid. It enhances the absorption of both food iron
and soluble iron fortificants, but not the relatively insoluble iron
compounds such as ferrous fumarate, ferric pyrophosphate or
elemental (reduced) iron.
A Na2EDTA:iron weight ratio of 3.3:1 to 6.6:1 is recommended for
foods fortified with soluble iron compounds such as ferrous sulfate to
increase the absorption 2 to 3 fold.

Issues to Consider
The World Health Organization recommends the following types and amounts of iron in
premix based on different extraction rates for low extraction flour (ash content <
Use small particle size dried ferrous sulfate or small particle size ferrous fumarate.
In populations consuming more than 300 g/day of wheat flour products, add 20 ppm
iron from dried ferrous sulfate or fumarate.
In populations consuming 150-300 g/day of wheat flour products, add 30 ppm iron from
ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate.
In populations consuming less than 149 g/day of wheat flour products, add 60 ppm iron
from ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate.
If cost or other factors (such as storing fortified flour longer than three months) make it
impossible to fortify flour with either ferrous sulfate or fumarate at the levels above, use
electrolytic iron or other iron fortificants with a relative biologic value of at least 50% of
dried ferrous sulfate. The level of these iron sources added to flour should be 2 times
that of ferrous sulfate.
Sodium iron EDTA (NaFeEDTA) at levels up to 40 ppm is recommended for low
extraction flours where there is no fermentation process in food preparation (i.e. in the
preparation of unleavened breads such as chapatti or noodles).

Issues to Consider
The World Health Organization only recommends sodium iron EDTA for high
extraction flour (ash content > 0.8%). The recommended rate is:
In populations consuming more than 300 g/day of wheat flour products, add
15 ppm NaFeEDTA.
In populations consuming 150-300 g/day of wheat flour products, add 20
ppm NaFeEDTA.
In populations consuming less than 149 g/day of wheat flour products, add
40 ppm NaFeEDTA.
NaFeEDTA should also be used in populations where the overall diet is of low
iron bioavailability. In these environments, the addition of up to 30ppm of iron
from NaFeEDTA is recommended as long as there are no adverse effects on the
flours sensory properties.

Choosing a Micronutrient Premix

Premix Components
Advantages of Using a Commercial Premix
Determination of the Premix Formula
Procuring Premix
Choosing a Reliable Premix Supplier
Shelf Life of the Bulk Premix
Considerations When Using Other Flour Additives
Addition Rates and Overages

Premix Components
The most common flour fortification practice is to add multiple vitamins and
minerals using a single ingredient- called a premix.
Premixes are produced by large commercial manufacturers and can be purchased
in specific blends that meet the production needs of the mill and the dietary needs
of the country.
A premix is made up of two major elements:
Fortificants (powdered vitamins and minerals)
Excipients (carriers, fillers and free-flow agents)

Premix Components

Small amounts of concentrated vitamins and minerals individually are hard

to add to flour because they are excessively light or dense, tend to clump,
and are difficult to feed in the small amounts required. A larger amount of
diluted premix is easier to feed and to obtain uniform distribution in the
fortified flour.

An excipient such as starch or maltodextrin is often blended into the

premix by the manufacturer to dilute the concentration of the vitamins and
minerals. Excipients may be referred to as carriers or fillers by premix
manufacturers. After an excipient is added, the bulk density of the premix is
lowered, bringing it closer to the bulk density of the flour. This makes for
easier feeding and blending.

In addition to excipients, a free-flow agent, such as tricalcium phosphate or

precipitated silica (silicon dioxide) may be added to keep the premix from
clumping and bridging in the hopper.

Advantages of Using a Commercial Premix

Generally, it is NOT recommended for millers to order
concentrations of vitamins or minerals individually and add them
one at a time or blend them at the mill. The one exception is
calcium, which is normally added separately due to the large
amount required.
Few mills are sufficiently equipped to undertake the complex task
of blending their own high quality premix, which requires difficult
ingredient procurement and extensive quality control testing.
The major advantages to using a commercial premix are:
1. Easier Feeding:
Some of the vitamins and minerals are very dense, (reduced iron)
while others are very light (riboflavin). The proper use of
excipients by commercial premix manufacturers mixes them into
a single ingredient that is much easier to feed and will cause
fewer problems on the flour mills production line.

Advantages of Using a Commercial Premix

2. Easier Quality Control Testing:
A properly manufactured premix has verified levels of different vitamins and
minerals that will allow testing of a single micronutrient to serve as an
indicator for the amounts of the others. Most often, iron is used as the
indicator nutrient (but others could be used as well). If a mill blended its
own premix, it would need to prove that the blend met required
specifications. Very few mills have the lab facilities or staff needed to carry
out such quality control procedures. It is much easier and less expensive
for the premix manufacturers to carry out this task. See Section 4 for more
information quality control testing.
3. Feed Rate Adjustments/Weighing:
A single premix requires only one feed rate adjustment for continuous flow
systems or one weighing for batch systems. This reduces labor
requirements and lessens the chance of error. See Section 3 for more
information on feed rates.

Determination of a Correct Premix Formula

As noted in Section 1, determining which vitamins and minerals will be added
and in what amounts for fortified flour in a country is a complex process that
may require the expertise of health specialists, nutritionists, millers, bakers and
food manufacturers, international donors and the national government.
In most countries, the government has the final say about the fortification
standards. However, the premixs specific composition is not normally
regulated. Usually, it is determined by the experience of the premix
manufacturer and the needs of the miller to ensure that the flour produced
meets a regulated minimum standard set by the government.
Premix manufacturers have extensive experience calculating premix formulas
and can work with each mill to provide the proper premix for that mill.

Determination of a Correct Premix Formula

The following factors are considered by the premix manufacturers when
determining a premix formula:
1) Nutrient concentration of the different forms of fortificants:
Some vitamins and minerals are available in multiple forms, and the
concentration of vitamins and minerals varies among these different
forms. This variation must be accounted for in determining how much of
each nutrient to add.
2) Premix addition rate and bulk density:
The bulk density of the premix will affect the addition rate and vice versa.
Both of these factors need to be considered together.
3) Overages:
Commercial premixes may have extra amounts of fortificants to control
for losses in nutrients throughout the fortification process.

Preparation of Diluted Premix

Ideally, the feeder should be set to operate between 20 and 80% of full
capacity. In some cases mills may find that the flow of flour to be fortified
is so slow as to require operation less than 20%, even when using all the
adjustments available in screw size and gears available. In that case the
mill may want to consider making a dilution of the premix.

A diluted premix, called a pre-blend, may also be needed if the premix is

not feeding uniformly or properly for some reason.

To make a pre-blend, use a batch mixer to mix flour or semolina

(granulated flour) with the premix. An example would be 1 part premix
and 4 parts semolina. The resultant pre-blend would then be used at 5
times the addition rate of the original premix (or 1000 grams/MT if the
premix was specified at 200 g/MT).

Pre-blends have a limited shelf life of only a couple weeks, so the amount
produced or delivered to a mill should not exceed a two week supply.

Addition Rates and Overages

The addition rate of the premix is needed to determine the final formulation
of the premix. Ideally, the addition rate is set to be in whole units, and
typically added at a rate between 50 and 300 grams per metric ton of flour.
Rates lower than this may be too difficult to control accurately.
Small mills may require a more diluted premix that can be added at rates
higher than 300 g/MT. In that case the mill may mix the premix with flour
to create a pre-blend that is more dilute and that can be added at higher
addition rates.

Addition Rates and Overages

Some added vitamins and minerals may be lost during milling due to exposure to heat,
oxygen and light. Some very light or small particle size materials with large surface area
may be physically removed with the dust during pneumatic suction. Larger particles may
be removed during sieving. Such milling losses need to be factored in when calculating
how much of each nutrient to include in the premix to meet a minimum standard in the
final product.
Manufacturing Overage

Premix manufacturers usually include individual premix fortificants at levels

approximately 2% to 5% higher than listed on the lable to ensure that the
premix meets the label claims.

Mill Overage

Millers usually add extra amounts of the premix or individual nutrients to the
flour to ensure that the final fortified flour meets the label claims. This is done
to account for variation in the natural level of vitamins and minerals in the
flour and it makes up for any processing or storage losses.

As an example, to fortify wheat flour, that naturally contains 12 ppm iron to

the U.S. standard of 44 ppm, 35 ppm iron is typically added, (This is the
target level minus the natural level plus 10.)

How to Procure Premix

Normally, mills purchase premix from one supplier who provides all the premix for a set
amount of time.
The Mill Purchasing Department should keep the following information about the
supplier on file:

The name and address of the suppliers company or organization.

The name and phone number of the principal contact to whom the order should be

The name or type of the premix to order

The standard amount of the premix that is ordered

The price history of the premix

The method and time of delivery

Mill staff should meet with the suppliers agent at least once per year to review
premix performance with respect to timeliness of delivery, quality, and price.
Sufficient stocks of premixes should always be maintained. Therefore, premixes should
be purchased well in advance of their running out. A reordering point in inventory
levels should be specified in the mills quality assurance plan to trigger the purchase
order, but production schedules should also be regularly consulted.

How to Procure Premix

Some countries have companies which manufacture premix, but in other cases, it needs to
be imported.
Smaller mills may find it more convenient and less costly to obtain premix through a
centralized, cooperative purchasing group, either through a local millers association, a
private enterprise or a government run operation. It may be possible for these groups to
obtain competitive bids from approved suppliers for a specified premix through an internet
bidding system being set up by GAIN known as the Premix Facility. GAIN is the Global
Alliance for Improved Nutrition.
The reliability of premix suppliers remains an issue of concern that many organizations are
working to address. Organizations such as the Micronutrient Initiative of Canada
( maintain lists of premix manufacturers.
Some countries, such as South Africa, have gone as far as to create approved lists of
premix-suppliers that must be used. See - click Vitamin

Please note that no specific supplier is specifically endorsed by this toolkit, and all
potential suppliers should be thoroughly investigated prior to purchasing premix.

Premix Receiving Procedures

(slide 1 of 5)
To ensure that the received premix is correct and of good quality, the mill purchasing
or receiving department should be responsible for inspecting premix upon delivery. A
premix receiving procedure including the steps listed below should be implemented
to ensure thoroughness:
1. Check the boxes for any damage and record if there is some. Mild damage to
the cardboard box is acceptable, but severe water damage and tears in the inner
bag are not.
2. Record date received and who is recording this data.
3. Record type or name of product and number of boxes or total weight and check
against what was ordered.
4. Record the lot numbers.
5. Check for a certificate of analysis (CoA) and put it in the fortification file. This
may be on one of the boxes or sent separately (fax or email).
Record all of this information on a Premix Receiving Report

Premix Receiving Procedures

(slide 2 of 5)

Check the contents of one box of each lot

received to see if the appearance is
normal. The premix should be free flowing
with no lumps, white spots or specs, and
no off-odor. Run a gloved hand through
the premix to check this. The operator will
do the same thing when he uses it, but by
then it may be too late to register a
complaint if something is wrong.

Premix Suppliers Should Provide:

(slide 3 of 5)
A label should be firmly affixed to every box.
The label should show:
a) The name of the product
b) The intended use of the product
c) The manufacturer with contact information
d) Handling precautions, if any
e) The date of manufacturer or use by date. (This is sometimes imbedded in
the lot number)
f) The lot number
g) The recommended application rate
h) The net weight
i) A list of ingredients.

Premix Suppliers Should Provide:

(slide 4 of 5)
A Certificate of Analyses (CoA) on each lot of premix for all nutrients in the
The CoA (sometimes referred to as a Certificate of Quality) is the official
documentation of premix quality. This certificate should be provided for each
lot of premix in the shipment. The CoAs for all premix batches received should
be kept on file and made available for any inspections that may be required.
The CoA should indicate:
Chemical assay of the premix batch for each nutrient contained
(except for vitamin B12 if present, whose level can be verified by
audit rather than actual assay). It may indicate the minimum and
maximum assay standards for that premix as reference.
Batch or lot number
Date of manufacture or expiration date or use by date if not
imbedded in the lot number

Premix Suppliers Should Provide:

(slide 5 of 5)
A Product Information Sheet or Fact Sheet
This document should be kept on file at the mill and made available to all operating
and quality control personnel.
Information provided in this document should include:
The name of the premix
The name and contact information of the manufacturer
The intended use of the premix
The ingredient composition of the premix usually in descending order
The food grade status of the ingredients used, (i.e. Food Chemicals Codex (FCC)
The recommended addition rate of the premix to flour and the levels of
micronutrients added at that rate
The minimum assay standards for the premix, and maximum assay standards if any
Storage and handling instructions
Allowable storage periods or shelf life of premix

Shelf Life of the Bulk Premix

Vitamins in the fortificant premix have a limited shelf life. Over time their
biological effectiveness is reduced. Most premixes not containing vitamin A
or C will last up to three years if stored properly. Minerals are particularly
stable and the vitamin shelf life usually determines the shelf life of the
premix overall. Premix manufacturers should always provide shelf life
information for their specific premixes. Millers should not expect premix
manufacturers or distributors to accept return of premix that has exceeded
its shelf life period.
Vitamin A is the only fortificant normally added to flour that is very
perishable. Premixes containing vitamin A may have a shelf life of as little
as 6 months.
These shelf-life specifications were taken from information provided from
premix manufacturers, but shelf life may be further reduced if premix is
stored incorrectly at the mill.

Mill Storage of Premix

Premix boxes should be kept

somewhere in the mill that is handy
but not exposed to sunlight, not
excessively hot (i.e. next to a boiler)
and safe from getting wet or hit by lift
trucks. The boxes can be piled on top
of each other, but it should be so
arranged that a first-in, first out system
of use could be easily accomplished.

One or two working boxes of premix

can be kept near the feeders, as
shown in the picture.

Note additional information on safe

handling of premix later in this tool kit.

Considerations When Using Other Flour Additives

Some flour mills add small amounts of bleaching agents and improvers to flour,
such as enzymes and oxidants. Azodicarbonamide, benzoyl peroxide, potassium
bromate and ascorbic acid are commonly added oxidants.
Even though it might be tempting to add improvers and fortificants with the same
feeder, this is NOT recommended, for the following reasons:

1. Improver addition rates need to be adjusted frequently to ensure that different

flours all meet commercial specifications.

Combining improvers and fortificants makes changing the addition rate of the
improvers more difficult.

2. There are also safety reasons for avoiding combining improvers and fortificants.

Some fortificants can react with improvers. For example, concentrated forms
of potassium bromate and benzoyl peroxide (flour bleach) should NEVER
be combined with fortificants because there is a danger of combustion.

The shelf life of vitamins might be altered if combined with improvers.

Considerations When Using Other Flour Additives

It is helpful to segregate boxes of premix and improvers. This could be done
with color coding or clear labeling.
The container storing the premix as well as the feeder being used to add a
particular premix or improver should be well identified to prevent accidental
replacement with any other flour additive or premix.
When multiple feeders are installed in a row, it is referred to as a feeder bank.
These photos show various sizes of feeder banks.

(Photos courtesy of Research Products Company)

End of Section 2A

Return to Table of Contents
Go to first slide of this Section

Section 2B

Choosing an Addition Method

Mill Requirements for Proper Fortification
Methods Used to Add Premix to the Flour
Information on Premix Feeders
Considerations Regarding the Size of the Mill
Types of Delivery Mechanisms
Ensuring Adequate Mixing
Equipment Suppliers
Lessons Learned from Other Millers
Information on Specific Nutrients Added

Mill Requirements for Proper Fortification


A premix feeder to measure out the

correct dose of premix and its placement at
a point in the production line where it
delivers the premix into the production line
to mix with flour.
Sometimes a small shoot or tube is
fabricated and installed to carry the premix
from the feeder to flour line. This should
be at a steep angle to insure it drops down
cleanly without stoppage.

Mill Requirements for Proper Fortification


Mechanisms to assure that the premix is uniformly mixed into the flour
after the point of addition and before packout. This can involve mixing
during the normal transport of flour from the conveyor to packout, or
insertion of special mixing equipment.

addition of premix
at flour collection


Methods Used to Add Premix to the Flour

Once the premix formula is determined, the best method to
add the premix to the flour needs to be selected.
There are two main delivery systems:
- Batch
- Continuous
There are different requirements for each method.

Methods Used to Add Premix to the Flour

Batch Systems:
The premix is measured out and is put into a
batch of flour and blended with a mixing
device. Fortifying within a batch system can
be slower and more labor intensive than
other methods, but it can be very accurate
when a precise scale is used and can be
made automated.

(Photo courtesy of Buhler Company)

Batch Systems
In-line batch mixers

Some mills have batch mixers as part of their

normal milling process (such as that shown in the
picture to the right). This is to blend flours or add
vital wheat gluten.
A fortification premix can be added to these
mixers, either manually or automatically using
standard microfeeders.

Separate mixers

It is possible to use a separate mixer to fortify

flour, but it is very inconvenient to do so and only
small batches of flour can be processed, so it is
not recommended except for very small mills
where continuous fortification is not feasible.

Methods Used to Add Premix to the Flour

Continuous Systems:
Most larger and newer mills operate within a
continuous system. The premix is continuously
metered or fed into the flour flow using a precision
micro feeder, also referred to as a dosifier. The
dosage rate is controlled and depends on the rate of
flour production of flour flow.
The continuous system incorporates a collection
conveyor (shown on right) where premix can be
continuously and easily added. The majority of the
information presented here refers to such milling

Information on Premix Feeders

To prevent premix from bridging in

the hopper, a large conditioning
screw, flexible pulsating plates on
the bottom of the hopper, or a
vibration device may be installed in
the hopper.

A low-level detector may be

installed on the bottom of the
hopper to indicate when the premix
is close to running out.

The outlet spout of the feeder

should be covered but afford easy
access to inspection and check


Feeders should be set up with an

electrical interlock system that
prevents the flow of premix when
flour flow is stopped.

The on/off switch, speed

controller, and low- level indicator
light can be located near the
feeder or at a remote location.

Some installations may need a

voltage regulator to ensure
proper performance of the feeder
and controller.


Electrical Interlock System

An interlock causes the feeder to stop if the flour collection conveyor

stops. This will prevent the inadvertent over-treatment of the flour, if
there is a mechanical breakdown in the mill.

It is highly recommended that an electrical interlock system be

installed between the feeder motor and the motor driving the flour
collection conveyor.

In pneumatic delivery systems, an interlock should be made

between the feeder and the blower to insure that the feeder cannot
be turned on without the blower operating. This will prevent buildup
of the premix in the pneumatic lines followed by over-treatment of
flour once the blower is turned on.

An alternative approach is to have an automatic shut off switch on

the feeder that is hooked up to a flour flow indicator or a pressure
indicator in a pneumatic system.

Electrical Interlock System

Interlocking (slaving) premix addition to flour flow:

The most accurate method of flour

fortification is to continuously
interlock the addition rate of the
feeder with the measured flow rate
of the flour.

This requires equipment for

measuring the flow rate of the flour
and computerized mill control
allowing the interlock.

Premix Feeder Mechanisms
Three main types of premix feeders are available to fortify flour. They
differ in terms of the mechanism used to deliver a constant rate of premix
powder. There are also differences in cost. See Section 6 for more
information about the cost of feeders.
Type one
Screw Feeder

Type two
Revolving Disk

Type three:
Drum / Roller

Mechanical Principles of Feeders

Gravimetric Addition:
One general principle by which feeders control the amount of premix added to flour is
gravimetric addition.
Gravimetric addition involves measuring the weight of material to be added on a
continuous basis. Weigh belt feeders are used in continuous systems that can give
direct weighings of the material being dispensed, but they usually require a greater
volume of material than used in most fortification operations.
All three types of feeders can be made into loss in weight feeders by mounting them
on load cells that send out an electronic signal proportional to the total weight. The
rate at which this weight drops with time indicates the true addition rate.
This system is somewhat more complex and expensive than is required in most cereal
milling operations, but it allows greater accuracy of addition and continuous traceability
on the amount of premix used.

Mechanical Principles of Feeders

Volumetric Addition:
A second general principle by which feeders control the amount of premix added to flour
is volumetric addition (most commonly used via screw feeders):
Volumetric addition is similar to using a cup or spoon to measure out ingredients. This is
based on the principle that the volume of the material being added has a set weight
when handled in a uniform manner. The minimum error of measurement for volumetric
addition is 2%.

Screw Feeders
Volumetric screw feeders that dispense a
set volume of a premix at a constant rate
are the most commonly used machines to
fortify flour at the mill. They are powered
by a variable speed direct current motor
with a controller that is used for fine
adjustment of the feed rate of the powder.
The size of the feed screw determines the
feed rate capacity. Large capacity
feeders may also use a gearbox to
increase and adjust the feed rate capacity.

Screw Feeders
Advantages of screw feeders:
Better able to sustain a constant addition rate for a
longer time
Wider range of delivery rates
Fewer mechanical parts
Fewer repairs because they breaks down less
Less expensive to build
Can be more sanitary
Easier to maintain than the other types of feeders
Widely available because screw feeders are now
the most common type of microfeeders and are
produced by a larger number of manufacturers.

Photo courtesy of Buhler Company

Revolving Disk Feeder

This is an older type of volumetric feeder that uses a revolving disk equipped with a slide
mechanism to control the rate of powder discharge. The disk revolves at a constant speed
powered by either an AC or DC motor. The hopper size is usually smaller than in other types
of feeders, and must therefore be refilled more frequently. This can be a disadvantage for
larger flour mills. This type of feeder also has more mechanical components than the screw

Drum or Roll Type Feeders

Drum or roll-type feeders have been used for decades and many thousands are still in
use. They can be set up as volumetric, gravimetric or loss of weight feeders. They
operate by allowing the premix powder to pass between two closely set revolving

Drum or Roll Type Feeders

Either a DC or AC motor can power the drum and a gearbox. A pulley system
controls the rotation speed. Pulleys and wheels of differing diameters make
gross adjustments in the feed rate. An adjustable gate is used to make fine

Drum or roll-type feeders require more parts to operate and higher maintenance.
Shear pins in the drive mechanism break if large objects (bolts, plastic) get
stuck between the rolls, and the feeder will stop working until a new pin is

In some newer drum feeder models, a variable speed DC drive motor is used to
allow the addition rate to be adjusted electronically rather than mechanically.
Variable speed AC drive motors are also available.

Sizing Feeders to the Capacity of the Mill

Mills generally need one feeder per flour or meal line to be fortified. Larger milling
units with multiple products may require additional feeders including spares.

Feeders used for flour fortification need to deliver only relatively small amounts of
material. The size and number of feeders needed will depend on the hourly
throughput of flour in the mill or load-out system. Hopper size on the feeder is also an
important consideration, since you do not want to fill it constantly, nor do you want to
let it go for many days without filling.

Photos courtesy of Research Products Company

Feeder Sizing

Powder premix feeders are available in

different sizes.

A small feeder may discharge premix

at levels as low as 25 g per hour (0.4

The largest can discharge up to 32

kg per hour. This would only be
needed with calcium fortification.
Volumetric feeder and hopper capacity
are normally given in Liters/min and Liters.
This can be converted to weight units by
knowing the bulk density of the premix (in


Flour flow

Add rate


















* At 72% extraction rate

** At 150 g/MT

Delivery Mechanisms

There are two main ways to deliver the premix to the flour:
gravity feed

Pneumatic System
In a pneumatic system, the premix drops into a venturi tube, that injects
the premix into an air stream. The material is blown by positive pressure
or sucked by a vacuum through a pipe into the flour collection conveyor.
If this can not be set up, some downstream location in the flour flow can
be used to add premix provided it will be well mixed with the flour.

venturi tube

Pneumatic System
Advantages of the pneumatic method

The feeder can be located at several places in the mill,

allowing it to be added to existing mills.
Things to Consider:

Pneumatically conveyed flour does not provide much

mixing with the premix. Premix should be blown in
before flour reaches a mixing (collection) conveyor or
sieve rather than directly into a flour holding bin.

Pneumatic addition requires some investment on

additional equipment such as blowers, valves and piping.

The pipes used to convey the material should have a

minimum number of sharp bends and twists to prevent
the possibility of blocking pipes and clumping by the
flour fortificant.

The venturi tube should be checked occasionally to see

if there is any build up of the premix, and cleaned when

Venturi Tubes
A venturi tube is a simple piece of equipment that connects the
premix feeder and the pneumatic delivery pipes. Venturi tubes are
used to deliver the premix into the flour stream in an entirely closed
pneumatic system.

Venturi tube arrangement

at discharge from feeder

Gravity Feed System

With this system, the feeder is placed above a flour conveyor. The premix
is dropped directly into the flour as it flows through the conveyor. Most
often the feeder is placed above or near the flour collection conveyor that
blends the various flour streams.

Gravity Feed System

Advantages of the Gravity Feed

Requires less equipment than

pneumatic conveying.

The feeder can sit directly on top of a

flour collection conveyor, on a platform.

It can be installed on floor directly above

the collection conveyor with the
discharge spout feeding into a mostly
vertically tube dropping down onto the

Gravity Feed System

Considerations when using
gravity feed systems:

New mills can be designed or

adapted to allow easy installation
of gravity feeder locations. Older
mills may be configured in ways
that makes installation of this
type of system difficult.

If the system is installed above

the collection conveyor, it may
require building a platform or
purchasing additional equipment.

Examples of Gravity Field Setup

Mixing screw flour conveyor

Flour collection conveyors for three

different lines of flour.

Section 2C

Ensuring Adequate Mixing

(slide 1 of 3)

Location of feeder on flour collection conveyor

At the front half of collection conveyor above the blades of the

mixing screw

At least 3 meters of conveyor length is normally needed to

ensure adequate blending

Too little mixing


Flour flow

Too little flour

Ensuring Adequate Mixing

(slide 2 of 3)

Another option for feeder location:

If it would be difficult to install the feeder at the beginning of a
conveyor, the feeder can be connected to the flour discharge
spout of a plansifter:
The sifter flour spout must have a significant amount of
flour entering into the flour collection conveyor on the floor
The sifter flour spout must enter the flour stream at least
three meters from the discharge end of the collection
conveyor to ensure adequate blending.
The three meter distance can be shortened in mills where
the flour is:
pneumatically blown from the collection conveyor to
either a packing bin or flour storage bin
the flour collection conveyor discharges into another
conveyor and the total length of the mixing distance
after the premix is added is at least three meters

Ensuring Adequate Mixing

(slide 3 of 3)

In the case of erratic flour flow:

Install mixing conveyor:

One solution for small, older mills without a point of a known, constant flow of flour is to
install a mixing conveyor running from a flour holding bin to the packout bin. The feeder
would drop or blow the premix into the start of the special conveyor.

Slave feeder output to flour flow:

If the flow of flour is erratic through a conveyor but its flow rate is measurable by some
devise that gives a proportional milliamp signal, that signal can be used to control the
output of the feeder.

Equipment Suppliers
Many companies sell fortification equipment. Mills should ensure that directions for installing
and maintaining equipment are available in the national language, or make arrangements to
have them translated.

When considering equipment, look for these specifications:

Screw type feed mechanism.
Automatic shut off capability.
All surfaces in contact with the premix of sanitary of stainless steel or noncorrosive material.
Manually adjustable delivery control, calibrated from 0 to 100% of feeder
capacity that can be mounted separate from feeder.
220 volt 10% 50/60 Hz single phase power.
Agitation mechanism to prevent bridging or tunneling of premix in hopper.
Capable of delivering from 0.04 to 8 L/hr with 5% accuracy over full range
through the use of different size screws, gears or belts supplied with feeder.
Hopper capacity of 8 liter minimum.
Device to allow operator to easily check if hopper is empty or near empty.

Equipment Suppliers

Vendor must provide two references of maize or flour mills where this
feeder has been in operation for at least one year.

Vendor must agree to provide:

Spare parts of gears, belts, screws, fuses or other parts that the
manufacturer is aware of possible replacement in the first three
years of operation.

A technician to help install X number of feeders in X number of mills

and to conduct workshops for miller groups on the installation,
calibration and maintenance of the feeder.

Operating instruction book that explains in words and with diagrams

the installation, calibration and maintenance of the feeder.

A price list of spare parts.

Lessons Learned from Other Millers

When ordering mill fortification equipment avoid these problems:

Motors with incorrect voltage or numbers of phases supplied (110v vs. 220v, single phase
vs. 3-phase, etc)

Required or expected components that are optional and not ordered or substantially
increased the cost of equipment.

No spare parts ordered and no mechanism for quickly obtaining spare parts (brass gears,
belts, etc)

Feeder designed for use with a specific premix, which did not work well with other
premixes due to different flow and packing properties.

Feeder placement may need to be located some distance from the flour line so that a
tube/shoot needed to be fabricated to carry the premix to the conveyor (via gravity).

When donor ordered equipment there is seldom detailed expertise. Milling specialists
MUST liaise closely and carefully review order details.

Equipment manuals may come in a different language than that of mill specialists (correct
language version of manual must be specified).

Nutrient Specific Information

Folic Acid

Each of these vitamins and minerals that can be added to flour

has its own issues surrounding which forms of the nutrient can
be added, how much to add, etc
For more information on the specific nutrients and their
fortificant forms, choose from the list to the left.

B vitamins

For information on health concerns regarding the overconsumption of any of these nutrients, please see Section 4:
Assuring Quality Control.

Vitamin A

For information on what these nutrients do for the body, please

see Section 1: Introduction to Flour Fortification.


How well people absorb iron from fortificants depends on both the fortificants
solubility and the amount of iron inhibitors in the diet. Inhibitors include phytates
and phenolic compounds found in tea, coffee and other foods. Reducing the
effect of inhibitors by adding ascorbic acid, using sodium EDTA or removing
phytates can increase the total amount of iron absorbed from iron fortified foods.
Unfortunately, these methods do not work well in wheat based foods.
The goal of fortification should be to use the iron compound that has the greatest
relative bioavailability compared to ferrous sulfate, yet does not cause
unacceptable properties in the flour. Cost is also an important consideration.

Types of iron compounds used in fortification

Elemental iron powders (Reduced (Fe0) Iron)

Electrolytic iron
Hydrogen reduced iron
Atomized iron
(all water insoluble)

Ferrous (Fe2+) Sulfate (moderately water soluble)

Ferric (Fe3+) Phosphates (water insoluble)

Sodium Ferric (Fe3+) EDTA (water soluble)

Ferrous (Fe2+) Fumarate (nearly water insoluble)

Insoluble Iron Compounds that are

Soluble in Stomach Acids
These compounds (Ferrous Fumarate) are reasonably well absorbed
because they are soluble in the stomach of healthy adults and adolescents.
There is some concern regarding absorption levels in infants who may secrete
less acid, but absorption is expected to be similar to water soluble compounds
in most people.
Water insoluble compounds cause fewer sensory problems in foods and
should be the fortificant of choice if the water soluble forms cause
unacceptable changes. Ferrous fumarate is the most commonly used iron
compound in this group.

Insoluble Iron Compounds that are

Insoluble in Stomach Acids
These compounds (elemental or reduced iron powders) have a relative bioavailability of
approximately 20 to 75 percent of ferrous sulfate iron. They are widely used in the food
industry, however, because they have a lesser effect on the sensory properties of the
foods. These compounds are relatively inexpensive, but should be used as a last resort
in areas where the diets are high in iron absorption inhibitors. If used, they should be
added at higher levels than that of ferrous sulfate.
Elemental iron powders are used widely to fortify cereals, but the bioavailability of the
several different types is very dependent on the size, shape and surface area of the iron
particles, as well as the composition of the foods to which they are added.
Only electrolytic iron has been proven to be sufficiently bioavailable for humans, but
recent data indicate that carbonyl iron and some H-reduced iron may have a
comparable bioavailability to electrolytic iron.

Water Soluble Compounds

Ferrous sulfate is the most frequently used water soluble iron fortificant because it is
inexpensive. The water soluble iron compounds have the highest relative
bioavailability because they are very soluble in the gastric juices. They should be the
iron fortificant of choice whenever possible.
However, these compounds are most likely to have adverse effects on the color and
flavor of foods during prolonged storage accelerating rancidity. The free iron can also
oxidize some vitamins in the food if they are supplied in the same premix.
The water soluble forms of iron can be useful for fortifying cereal flours that have a
relatively fast turnover. But, because ferrous sulfate can cause rancidity dependent
on the climate and the fat content of the flour, its suitability as a fortificant should be
considered before use.

Sodium Iron EDTA (NaFeEDTA)

Iron is two to three times better absorbed from NaFeEDTA than from
ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate in foods high in phytic acid.
FeNaEDTA does not accelerate rancidity in stored cereals. However,
it may cause color changes in some foods as it is not very soluble in
water. It is more expensive than other types of iron, but less is
needed per metric ton of flour because it is better absorbed. The iron
spot test is not compatible with sodium iron EDTA, but other testing
methods are available.

Relative Bioavailability of Iron Sources

Relative Biological Value (RBV) is the comparison in bioavailability (ability of the body
to utilize the added iron) of different iron sources to that of ferrous sulfate, which is
100% by definition. The absolute absorption of ferrous sulfate can vary from 5% to
30% depending on the iron status of the individual and the composition of the diet.

% RBV 50




SUSTAIN studies


Types of iron compounds used

in cereal fortification

Elemental Iron powder (reduced) iron

Ferrous Fumarate

Ferrous Sulfate

Ferric phosphate

Fortification and Iron Deficiency

The World Health Organization says

iron deficiency is the most common
and widespread nutritional disorder in
the world. Fortifying flour with iron
helps reduce iron deficiency.
Anemia is measured by serum
hemoglobin levels. There are multiple
causes of anemia, but iron deficiency
is the primary one.


Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is measured by indices

of body iron stores such as ferritin. It
can cause a number of health
problems besides anemia.

Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is

indicated by the presence of both low
hemoglobin and low iron stores.

Studies on Iron Bioavailability

Efficacy studies involve a select population that was given a known, controlled diet to see if
their nutritional status improves.
Effect of different iron sources on iron status 36 week human efficacy trial

% Prevalence 30


H Reduced


SUSTAIN studies
Iron deficiency


Studies on Iron Bioavailability


0 month
2 months
4 months
6 months

Mean Hb Levels (g/L)


Iron supply sufficient

Iron deficiency


20 ppm

30 ppm

Elemental Iron
60 ppm

Modif. from Chen Chunming et al. (2005)

Effect of Iron Fortification of White Flour on Hb Levels (China)

Studies on Iron Bioavailability

Effect of 24 ppm Fe as NaFeETDA Flour Fortification on Serum Iron
Levels in Weichang, China


SI (mg/L)




* Significant difference from control


Studies on Iron Bioavailability

Effect of 24 ppm Fe as NaFeETDA Flour Fortification on Hemoglobin
Levels in Weichang, China

Hb (g/L)










* Significant difference from control

B Vitamins
Thiamin (B1)
Riboflavin (B2)
Niacin (B3)
Pyridoxine (B6)
Cobalamin (B12)
Folic Acid (B9)

Thiamin (vitamin B1)

Thiamin Compounds Used

For flour fortification, thiamin mononitrate is the preferred fortificant

compound as it is less soluble in water than thiamin hydrochloride.
Both compounds are white or almost white in color and thus do not
affect the color of the flour product.

Both thiamin compounds are susceptible to losses from exposure to

light and heat and alkaline conditions (pH over 7).

Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Riboflavin Compound Used

The only vitamin B2 source used in cereal fortification is riboflavin. It is

soluble in water. The compound is yellow in color.

Riboflavin preparations differ in their physical properties and crystalline

structure, which influences its color, solubility and particle size. Only
products designated by the manufacturer for flour fortification should be
considered for use.

Riboflavin compounds are highly unstable when exposed to light.

Niacin (vitamin B3)

Niacin Compounds Used

Two niacin compounds are commonly used in fortification:

nicotinic acid (normally just called niacin) and nicotinamide.
Nicotinamide is soluble in water, while nicotinic acid is relatively
insoluble in water but soluble in alkaline environments. Niacin
does not cause color changes to the flour as it is white in color.

Nicotinic acid is a vasodilator and can cause a flushing reaction

(reddening) in the skin on exposure.

Both niacin compounds are very stable in heat and light.

Pyrodoxine (vitamin B6)

Pyrodoxine Compounds Used

Pyrodoxine hydrocloride is the pyrodoxine fortificant of choice for flour

fortification. It is water soluble. The compound is white in color and thus
does not affect the color of the flour produced.

The pyrodoxine compound is stable to heat, but sensitive to UV light.

Cobalamin (vitamin B12)

Cobalamin Compounds Used

Cyanocobalamin is the cobalamin fortificant used in flour fortification. Diluted

forms are usually used because only extremely small amounts of the vitamin are
needed. Cyanocobalamin is dark red in color but does not adversely affect the
color of the flour because of the minute amounts added.
Cyanocobalamin is relatively stable in heat, but unstable in alkali and strong
acidic environments.

Analytical Testing

It is very difficult and expensive to test for the small amounts of vitamin B12 used
in fortification. A microbiological test method is normally employed.

Cobalamin Bioavailability

The formulation of cobalamin in fortified foods is absorbed two times more readily
than natural cobalamin occurring in foods.

Folic Acid (vitamin B9)

Folic Acid Compound Used

Pteroyl monoglutamic acid is the form of folic acid used in fortification.

It is light yellow in color, but this does not affect the sensory aspects of
the food because of the small amounts added. The compound is
relatively stable with some loss from exposure to light and food

Pteroyl monoglutamic acid is only slightly soluble in water, but is easily

soluble in the low pH of the stomach.

Folic Acid Bioavailability

Folic acid provided in fortified foods is more readily absorbed than

natural food folate. On average 1.7 times more is absorbed.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A Compounds Used

Several forms of vitamin A are used in fortification: retinyl acetate, retinyl

palmitate and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene has an orange color that makes it
unsuitable for flour fortification.

The retinyl esters are available in a protected, spray-dried form for use in flour
fortification, sometimes referred to as SD-250 or SD-250S, since they contain
250 IU/mg. These forms do not affect the sensory properties of the flour.

Different commercial products can vary in their stability, both in the

concentrated product and in a premix. Significant losses can occur on storage
if the encapsulation and antioxidant protection system is poor. A standard
stability test at 45 C on the raw material should show losses no greater than
20% after 21 days.

Calcium Compounds Used

The most common calcium fortificants

used in flour fortification are calcium
sulfate and calcium carbonate.
Both compounds are white in color
and have a bland taste resulting in no
significant changes to the flour

Levels added

The level of calcium added ranges

from 1.1 to 2.1 grams/kilogram.

Because these levels are far higher

than the premix addition, calcium is
always added separately.

Ca level 1.1 g/kg

2.1 g/kg

Ca Sulfate



Ca Carbonate



Level of the calcium salts needed (in grams per

kilogram flour) To be added at the two most
common levels of calcium fortification.

Zinc Compounds Used

Zinc oxide is the most commonly used zinc source for the fortification of
cereals. It is also the least expensive and the source that causes the
least problems with flavor and other organoleptic properties.

Zinc Level

The level of zinc added depends on the average wheat consumption and
the flour extraction rate as well as phytic acid intake from other dietary

Zinc Bioavailability

Zinc absorption depends primarily on the amount of zinc consumed and

the amount of phytic acid present in the food. According to the
International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Groups (IZiNCG), when
consuming just enough zinc to meet physiological needs, about 27 to 35
percent is absorbed from diets with a relatively low amount of phytic acid,
while 19 to 26 percent is absorbed from diets with relatively higher

End of Section 2
Return Table of Contents
Go to first slide of this Section

Section 3

On the Production Line

Installation & Calibration of Premix Dosing
Premix: Handling, Storage & Management
Equipment: Maintenance & Troubleshooting

Installation & Calibration of

Premix Dosing Machinery

Location of Premix Feeders

Feeder Set-up
Feeder Calibration
Fortification Operation Guidelines

Location of Premix Feeders

Place feeders in a dry location and away from sunlight.
Vitamin A, riboflavin and folic acid are sensitive to light and
atmospheric oxygen.
Ideally, place feeders in an area of the mill easily
accessible to the operators. Controller should be handy to
the millers office or flour testing station.
There should be room adjacent to the feeders for a supply
of the premix ready to add (a box or two depending on use
Feeders should be located near the beginning of the
conveyor to assure good mixing with the flour after it is

Feeders Details with Premix Box

Feeder Details

Location of feeder on flour collection conveyor

At the front half of collection conveyor above the blades of the mixing
At least 3 meters of conveyor length is normally needed to ensure
adequate blending.
Feeder located on platform or floor

Too little mixing



Too little flour

Premix Feeder Set-up

In general, one feeder is needed for each production line

of flour to be fortified.

Locate feeders to allow adequate mixing with flour after

point where premix is added.

Speed controller and low level indicator light should be in

readily visible, convenient and easily accessible location.

Feeder hopper should be convenient for filling.

Install voltage stabilizers whenever electrical voltage

fluctuates more than 20%.

Install electrical interlock systems directly to either the

flour collection conveyor motor or the mill control panel.

Check low premix level indicator lights to assure hopper is

operating correctly.

Two lines, two feeders

Conveyor Direction

Feeder Controller

Feeder Details
(Mongolia example)
Screw Premix


Feeder Calibration
Check the flour production rate (kg/hr) for each production line, even if the
rate has been established. his can be done with the following procedure:
While the mill is running, count number of bags packed per 60 minutes or use
on-line flour scale (if one is installed).
Calculate the flour production rate using the following formula. This is the
actual production rate per minute and not rated capacity.

(weight of bags in kg) x (number of bags per 60 minutes


= kg flour per minute.

Feeder Calibration
Premix Feed Rate Determination:
Next, determine the premix feed (discharge) rate at different speed settings on your feeder.
1. Fill hopper half full with premix to be added.
2. Set feeder to maximum discharge.
3. Run feeder for two minutes.
4. Weigh the premix that has been discharged.
5. Calculate maximum discharge per minute.
6. Optional: Repeat at different speeds or percent settings.
7. Graph paper or a spreadsheet program can be used to make a chart that shows the
premix discharge rate per minute at different speed settings from 0 to 100% of maximum
discharge. This should be displayed near the feeder.

Feeder Calibration
Individualized Premix Feed Rate Determination to Fortify at Set Levels:
Finally, you need to take both the flour production rate measure and the premix feed rate
measure you calculated previously and use them to determine the feed rate of premix in grams
per minute required to fortify the flour at the recommended level.
Determine the recommended addition rate of premix (from supplier specifications on the
1. Calculate the required premix feed rate per minute using these formulas:
2. Adjust the control/dial on the feeder to deliver the calculated weight of premix per
minute. You should now be ready to begin fortification.

premix weight in grams per ton


= grams per kg flour

(premix weight per kg) X (production rate per minute in kg) = premix weight required per

Feeder Calibration Chart

Prepare and post near feeder

Fortification Operation Guidelines

1. Be sure feeders are calibrated and actual production rate of mill has been
2. Ensure feeder hopper contains premix.
3. Start mill up and let run for at least 15 minutes to reach normal production rate.
4. Start feeder at required setting as determined by the feeder calibration process.
5. Conduct check weighing at start of mill production run and every TWO hours
to verify correct addition rate. Adjust if addition rate is greater than 10% above
or below target. Recheck addition rate using check weigh procedure. Try to
maintain check weight within 5% of target. Check weights should be run at the
start of every shift or every 8 hours of operation.

Fortification Operation Guidelines


Each premix feeder should be checked routinely during production run to ensure
there is sufficient premix in the hopper and that feeder is operating properly.


Note: To add an extra quality control measure, mills may require premix feeder
hoppers to be filled on a regular basis and the weight of the material left in the
premix carton recorded. If the amount used between weightings is compared with
the flour production during the same period, a measure of addition is obtained.


The most important check on the production line is to ensure that the feeder does
not run out of premix. Many feeders have a low level indicator that can be checked.


At the end of a production run, the premix feeder should be turned off before
shutting down the mill.


Production records need to record the following:

The lot number of the premix used

Check weights

Feeder adjustments if made

Times of check weighing

Check-Weighing Procedure

Premix: Handling, Storage & Management

Safe Premix Handling

Maintaining Premix Shelf Life
Premix Delivery and Receiving Procedures
Management of the Premix Supply

Safe Storage and Handling of Premix

Premixes are concentrated sources of
vitamins and minerals, and small doses
over a prolonged period can be harmful.
Some workers may have a mild allergic
skin reaction to some premix
The following worker precautions should be
used when handling premix:
1. The premix boxes should have a
Warning Label and handling
precautions that should be followed.
2. Premix is never for direct use in foods: IT IS TOO CONCENTRATED FOR DIRECT
CONSUMPTION. Mill workers MUST BE INFORMED and understand this safety
precaution. Materials safety data sheet (MSDS) or a product information sheet with
handling instructions should be distributed or made known to all workers who will
contact the premix.

Safe Storage and Handling of Premix


When filling the feeder hopper, the operator should wear a long sleeve shirt, gloves
and dusk mask. He may also wear safety goggles, a hair net, safety helmet or
other protective devices depending on the policies of the mill. (Since the filling of
the hopper may take less than a minute, the operator may see this as unnecessary.)


Workers handling premix should wear long sleeve shirts and gloves when handling
the product. Some people have an allergic skin reactions to flour fortificants such
niacin. A common reaction is skin reddening caused by the vasodilatation effect of
niacin. This effect is not dangerous and is transitory, but it can be annoying.


After filling hoppers, workers should wash their hands and skin areas that were
exposed to premix.


Premix boxes should be stored in a convenient location but not exposed to sunlight,
not excessively hot (i.e. next to a boiler) and safe from getting wet or hit by lift
trucks. The boxes can be piled on top of each other, but they should be arranged
so that a first in, first out system of use can be easily accomplished.

Safe Storage and Handling of Premix


Normally, one box at a time is brought adjacent to the feeder for filling. The box and
the inner bag are opened. A scoop can be placed inside the opened bag for
convenient use. Keep paper, plastic, and other contaminates out of the bag as they
may get in the feeder cause its malfunction. Ideally, the inner plastic premix bag
should be a colored material so any pieces would be noticeable to the operator.


Once the hopper has been filled, the operator should put the scoop back in the bag
or at some other designated location. The inner bag should be twirled close and the
cardboard flaps folded over. This operating box should be left in a location that is
convenient for future use but not exposed to conditions that could damage it.


Any spill of premix should be cleaned up immediately by putting meal on the spill
prior to sweeping.

Maintaining Premix Shelf Life


Ideal storage Conditions: Store in well-ventilated rooms at low or mild

temperatures (preferably not higher than 25C), and avoid humid conditions. Where
humidity cannot be controlled, vapor barrier packaging should be used.


Purchase in Small Quantities: The amount of commercial premix needed should

be estimated and obtained in quantities small enough so that it does not need to be
stored for long periods of time.


Stock Rotation: Upon receipt of the shipment, the production lot number(s) should
be recorded and retained. A first-in, first-out (FIFO) system of stock rotation should
be used.


Use of Open Containers: Once a premix bag has been opened, it should be kept
closed when not in use and protected from heat and light.

Premix Receiving Procedures

1) Assess condition of the

3) Record Lot # and type of


2) Ensure that you receive what

you ordered

4) Remove certificate of analysis

and keep on file

Management of the Premix Supply

Responsibilities for mill staff for each aspect of premix supply needs to be
clearly assigned at the mill. The major assignments include the following:

Stock control and ordering (ordering times need to take into

account usage rates and the time it takes to process, ship and
receive a shipment)

Mill handling to include storage, movement to the production line

and addition to the feeder(s).

Premix quality control on arrival at the mill and periodically in

storage and on the production lines. This function is different from
quality control of the fortified flour.

Equipment: Maintenance & Troubleshooting

Routine Inspection & Maintenance

Problems with Magnets

Routine Inspection & Maintenance

Typically, inspection and maintenance of premix feeders and control equipment is

minimal, but will vary depending on feeder type.

Manufacturers should provide specific inspection and maintenance information with the
machines (check on delivery).

Instructions may need to be translated into national language if not done by


Manufacturers can be consulted to learn what parts may wear out and how they can be

A stock of high turnover spare parts should ordered and kept on hand.

Problems with Magnets

(Slide 1 of 2)
Magnets on the production line may cause minor problems by
attracting the elemental (reduced) iron forms used in some
Iron salts (ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate and iron
EDTA) used in some premixes WILL NOT be attracted
to magnets intended to remove tramp iron.

Elemental iron powders in premixes may be attracted to magnets, BUT:

Only rare earth magnets are strong enough to actually pull elemental iron powders out
of flour as it passes by the magnet. This magnet quickly becomes saturated with the
iron powder and a state of equilibrium is reached causing no additional iron to be
Extensive experience shows that magnets will generally remove tramp iron but little to
no iron powder because the tramp iron is thousands of times larger and much more
strongly attracted.
If a problem is suspected, it can be checked by inspecting the surface of magnets to
see if they hold large amounts of iron powder.

Problems with Magnets

(Slide 2 of 2)
If magnets have a manual cleaning system, as do most of the new tube magnets,
check the amount of iron powder that is removed on cleaning.

If there does seem to be a problem, there may be are alternative

solutions as noted on the next page.

Fixes for Problems with Magnets

Actions to correct magnets causing problems with iron separation:

Install magnets in a location so that the flour stream acts as a continuous cleaning
mechanism as it passes over the magnet.

If the iron powder bridges between the magnet tubes, use a magnet system with
a larger distance separating the tubes.

Place magnets prior to the addition of the premix and rely on sieves to remove
tramp iron after that point.

Use a non-magnetic iron source, such as iron salts.


The best way to prevent and easily fix production problems is to be prepared and
know what to expect.

The links below are for troubleshooting information and action steps regarding the
following problems:

Trouble with Premix and Feeders

Electrical Power Supply Variations

Segregation and Loss of Vitamins and Minerals

Trouble with Premix and Feeders

Frequent, visual inspections of the premix feeder are important, especially

after it is newly installed.

Compaction and stickiness of the premix may cause it to ball-up, bridge or

tunnel in the feeder. A loose material will feed slower in weight per unit time
than the compacted material. Thus, compacted premix can cause problems
because it results in feed rate variability.



Have premix supplier change the levels of excipients and free-flow agents
Install mechanical agitation in premix feeder hoppers. (See next page.)
Empty feeders that will be unused for any length of time.

Mechanical Agitation

Installing a mechanical agitator in the hopper will help prevent the premix from
bridging, clumping and compacting. Some models of feeders may automatically
come with an agitator device already installed.

Trouble with Premix and Feeders

If there are problems with the flour flow or the premix flow, the level
of premix added to the flour will be incorrect.



Make frequent inspections of the feeder

Install low-level alarm or indicator light on hopper
Install electrical interlock system between the mill and feeder
controls. (See next page.)

Electrical Interlock System

(slide 1 of 2)

An interlock causes the feeder to stop if the flour collection conveyor

stops. This will prevent the inadvertent over-treatment of the flour if
there is a mechanical breakdown in the mill.

It is highly recommended that an electrical interlock system be

installed between the feeder motor and the motor driving the flour
collection conveyor.

In pneumatic delivery systems, an interlock should be made

between the feeder and the blower to insure that the feeder cannot
be turned on without the blower operating. This will prevent buildup
of the premix in the pneumatic lines followed by over-treatment of
flour once the blower is turned on.

An alternative approach is to hook up an automatic shut off switch

on the feeder to a flour flow indicator or a pressure indicator in a
pneumatic system.

Electrical Interlock System

(slide 2 of 2)

Interlocking (slaving) premix addition to flour flow:

The most accurate method of flour

fortification is to continuously
interlock the addition rate of the
feeder with the measured flow rate
of the flour.

This requires equipment for

measuring the flow rate of the flour
and computerized mill control
allowing the interlock.

Electrical Power Supply Variations

Electrical voltage power fluctuations may occur in your mill, due to

national grid supply problems and generator variability.

This can cause a problem because feeders and controllers must operate
in a consistent, uniform manner to ensure adequate fortification.

Variations in voltage can alter the flour production rate and the premix
feed rate, which will cause the flour to be fortified incorrectly.

1. Use voltage regulators when you are working with single voltage feeder
2. Use three-phase motors. Three-phase motors are more reliable and
generally run cooler and last longer than single phase motors. But they
also require three-phase electricity and are a higher initial investment.

Segregation and Loss

of Vitamins and Minerals
Some of the added vitamins and minerals may be destroyed, segregated or
removed in other parts of the production line, such as pneumatic suction or
sieving. This may be discovered upon quantitative testing. Vitamin A and
riboflavin are particularly vulnerable.
Confirm that you are using a premix that is appropriate for your flour.
Check the dust collector. Excess riboflavin will give the dust a yellow color.
Quantitative testing will identify other vitamins and minerals that may be
present. If this is the case, alter or remove the pneumatic suction after the
point of addition, or fortify the flour at a later stage of the milling process.
Make sure that the flour is not exposed to high heat (>40 C) or light during
after the premix has been added.
Do not run the flour through purifiers or under heavy suction after you have
added the premix. Purifiers need to be installed earlier in the production line.

Section 4

Quality Control
The importance of quality control system
Safety Concerns
Overview of Quality Control Methods
Record Keeping
Feed Rate Monitoring
Iron Spot Test
Quantitative Testing Using an Indicator Nutrient
Outside Quantitative Testing
Quality Control Schedule
External Monitoring by the Authorities

Importance of a Quality Control System

Flour millers play the largest role in assuring success of national efforts
to bring fortified flour to populations and gain customer satisfaction with
fortified flour
A uniformly high quality fortified product is needed to gain customer
satisfaction and meet government standards.
Good quality requires a well-developed and comprehensive quality
assurance and control program in the mills and across all levels of a
national fortification program. Plans to strengthen the overall national
level, good quality and good development requires a comprehensive
quality assurance and control procedures.

Monitoring of fortified flour

There are three aspects of fortification monitoring

Internal monitoring (quality assurance and control) by the mills, with

possible help from a central milling association


External monitoring (food control and enforcement) by the government.


Coverage and effectiveness monitoring by the government of a

designated organization

Qualitative Flour Testing

Qualitative tests are simple, rapid tests that can be done at the mill to
determine if a flour sample has been fortified or not, and, with some test
procedures, obtain an estimate of whether it is under or over fortified.
The primary test used for this purpose is the Iron Spot Test (but other tests are
needed for Sodium Iron EDTA
In some cases, the iron spot test can not be used because of the type and level
of iron added. In that case, possible alternative qualitative tests are:
o Riboflavin black light test riboflavin will fluoresce under ultraviolet
light. This should be done in a dark room or box using a wet Pekar slick
of the flour compared to unfortified and a standard fortified flour.
o Vitamin A color test This is a somewhat involved test that must be
done in a laboratory. It is based on comparing the intensity of a blue color
that forms with vitamin A with a standard solution of copper sulfate.
These two alternative tests are poor replacements for the iron spot test. One
suggestion is to always have some elemental iron included in the premix to act
as a marker, recognizing that this would increase the total iron content if
measured quantitatively.

Semi-qualitative Flour Testing

The iron spot test and vitamin A color test when properly done with
known fortified flour samples afford a rough estimate on the level of
fortification in an unknown sample. The following descriptive scale is
one way the results can be reported.

No fortification detected
Low level
Normal level
High level
Very high level

Safety Concerns
Fifty years of experience has proven that flour fortification is very safe and has
minimal risks that are easily controlled by established quality assurance an
control procedures.
Two main safety concerns:
1. Setting safe and appropriate standards:
The national fortification standards of vitamins and minerals in foods need to be set high
enough to insure nutritional benefits are provided, but low enough to guarantee that
consumers do not chronically consume too much of any nutrient.
2. Preventing the accidental over-fortification of flour: Avoiding levels of minerals and
vitamins that are excessively high is accomplished through a set of standard practices
using equipment and procedures to monitoring the use of pre-mix and the nutrient levels
in the fortified flour.
Mill production staff can easily recognize if a higher than expected rate of premix
is being added through normal quality control testing. Additionally, the highly
over-fortified flour would show an off-color, from the iron and riboflavin making it
unacceptable to most consumers.

Overview of Quality Control Method

The standard procedures that test fortification during production need to
assure reliable results and be able to be performed quickly to allow
immediate corrective action if a problem is found.

As with other quality control procedures, both the process of fortification and the
results need to be monitored and recorded.

The four basic quality control methods for flour fortification that should be used in
every mill are relatively fast and simple to perform on a regular basis.


Record keeping of premix usage and fortified flour production


Monitoring of the premix feed rate and flour flow rate


Qualitative testing (iron spot test)


Regularly sending samples for quantitative testing

Except in cases of an extreme problem, adjustments should be based on trends over

time and not on the results on any one test.

Iron Spot Test

This is the most common test used by mills for quality control to assure
that a correct amount of premix is being added to flour and a uniform
product is being achieved.

A modified procedure that gives excellent

results on flour fortified with elemental iron
powders uses a solution of 1 part 1 N HCI
and 6 parts methanol or denatured ethanol in
the place of the 2 N HCI called for in the
standard procedure. This solution is very
stable and can be kept for months. This
procedure gives dark spots on a white
background and avoids the need for a
stronger acid solution.

The iron spot test cannot be used to test for

sodium iron EDTA, however. If NaFeEDTA is
used, ask the company which supplies the
compound about testing methods.

Iron Spot Test

How often performed:
Every 4 hours and at the start and end of each
production run.

What is tested:
Flour samples taken at the end of the
production line (most often prior to bagging but
samples from bags in warehouses can also be
Description of the method:

This method, approved by the AACC, is applicable for

qualitative determinations of iron in enriched flour
Ferric iron added to flour reacts with a thiocyanate (KSCN)
reagent to form a red-colored complex
A higher number of red spots and deeper red color appear
with fortified flour compared with untreated flour.

Iron Spot Test

Advantages of the Spot Test

Simple, fast and easy technique requiring no sample


Inexpensive; requiring only two reagents, KSCN (or

NaSCN) and HCI

Personnel with minimum training can carry out this



Not quantitative, i.e., it does not determine the amount

of iron present in the sample.

Method shows only ferric iron. If iron is added in the

ferrous form, the sample needs to be oxidized with
hydrogen peroxide to convert the ferrous to ferric iron
before analysis.

This works poorly with NaFeEDTA

Iron Spot Test


Iron Spot Test

Food grade NaSCN is available in case there is concern about the safety of this
reagent. However care should be taken with its use, as with any concentrate

The spot test works best with elemental iron powders, and very poorly with
NaFeEDTA. Some NaFeEDTA products produce no spots, giving only a reddish
background color.

Mill chemists use many different ways to prepare the flour for testing.
The simplest is to make an impression with a 50cc beaker into a small pile of
flour sitting directly on the work bench. Add the reagents with a plastic,
disposable dropper and sweep the flour pile into a waste basket when
Other flour preparation methods take more time but give better semiquantitative results. One is to make a wet Pekar slick test with both unknown
and known samples, and let the reagents run down the wet slicks.
Some premix companies can provide additional advice on the use of the iron
spot test and ways to optimize its effectiveness.

Iron Spot Test

Appropriate Response to Results from Spot Tests

Single spot test results conducted during the daily production run (taken every 2, 4
or 8 hours depending on need) showing more or less spots than target level is not
a reason to make adjustments to the feeder system for micronutrients.
Some variability in the amount of iron will always be found through the spot tests
as well as through qualitative tests.
Adjustment is called for if a systematic trend (i.e. consistently low or consistently
high or trending low or high) over time is noticed.
Adjusting a premix addition system based on one or two spot test results when no
adjustment is warranted is likely to widen system variability and complicate future
When what appears to be too low or too high a level of iron is observed in the iron
spot test count based on several measurements over time, action is needed.

Check the premix feeder and flour transport and mixing machinery and adjust
if necessary
Take an additional sample for testing

Record Keeping

Premix Records: Check, record and maintain

information on the delivery and usage of the premix.

Flour Production Records: Collect and maintain

information on how much fortified flour was produced.

Premix Usage Reconciliation: Reconcile and record

actual usage of premix versus target needs. The
amount of premix used should be compared against
the flour production records and recorded. This
provides a simple way of determining if the correct
amount of premix is being used.

Quality Control Testing Records: Results of quality

control tests performed in the mill and also those done
outside must be carefully recorded and kept on file.
These document the history and producers
supervision of the fortification process.

Feed Rate Monitoring

The toolkit previously described how to
calibrate the feed rate of a premix feeder and
how to select the correct feed rate based on the
flour production rate.
It is important to continue to conduct check
weighing tests regularly to ensure that the
feeders feed rate remains steady.
Reminder note: Check Weighing: the weight of
the premix discharged over a specific time (1 or
2 minutes) is measured and compared to the
target weight for the premix.

Quantitative Testing Using Indicator Nutrient

Quantitative testing for fortified flour is most often done by laboratories with more
sophisticated equipment and greater experience and throughput than what is
available at a mill.
Typically one of the premix ingredients will be tested as an indicator of the
others. This method is a valid method for premix that has been properly
designed, manufactured and mixed to achieve a constant ratio of the different
Because the ratio is constant, measuring one of the micronutrients in flour can
verify the delivery doses of the others.
This assumes there has been no destruction or separation of the indicator
nutrient after the premix was added.
Iron is often used as an indicator nutrient, but vitamin A has also been used
when it is added.

Outside Quantitative Testing

Quantitative testing of vitamins and minerals in

fortified flour requires sophisticated equipment
and careful adherence to protocols because
the levels of the vitamins and minerals are so
small compared to the volume of the flour.

Quantitative tests for the mills should be done

on documented composite samples taken on
the production line or warehouse and sent by
the mill.

Questions on the accuracy of the results

should be referred to a certified, reference
laboratory using officially approved testing
It is highly recommended that any lab running quantitative tests:

Use a fortified food standard with certified levels of micronutrients to

correct for any bias in results

Regularly run a fortified flour standard to assess the labs analytical

error for each assay.

Outside Quantitative Testing

Collecting a Composite Sample of Fortified Flour
Composite samples are created by blending small samples of fortified
flour taken at spaced time intervals across a production shift.

The composite sample made of 5 to 10 spot samples should be

representative of a production lot, such as an 8 hour run.

The samples making up the composite sample should be of the

same size taken evenly over the production period in order to
represent the total production throughout the period.

The purpose of the composite sample is to estimate the average

value of the nutrients in a production run. Use of composite
samples keeps the cost of fortification analysis down by limiting the
number of tests needed to establish an estimate of the mean value.

Responding to single or even several observations of high or low

nutrient values is an inappropriate use of quantitative testing. Its
main purpose is to establish trends over time and is a valuable tool
when used in that manner.

Outside Quantitative Testing

Uniformity or Mill Capability Testing

When a mill starts fortifying, it may wish to determine its capacity of

producing a uniformly fortified flour.

This is normally done by quantitatively testing an indicator nutrient

(typically iron) in spot flour samples (not composite samples) over a
production run. Suggest taking 7+ samples over an 8 hour run.

Calculate the coefficient of variation (CV) = standard deviation as the

average percentage of the mean.

If the analytical error or the lab for that assay is known and less than 5%,
a CV, less than 20% is indicative of an acceptable variability. If the CV is
higher than 20% the mill should investigate possible reasons for the
variation, such as variation in the flour low rate or erratic premix addition.

Outside Quantitative Testing

Use of quantitative test results

Mills should not adjust the addition rates based on the results of a single analysis.

Long term trends can influence whether to adjust the premix addition rate up or
down or request a different premix formulation from the supplier.

Any decision or change should be based on the trends in multiple cases of

quantitative testing over time. This is best seen by plotting a standard control





Outside Quantitative Testing

Flour Testing Laboratories

Types of testing done at laboratories involved with fortified flour

Runs quantitative tests.
Runs or manages biological
Audits mills.

Can run quantitative tests of

all added micronutrients and
Checks results and
Procedures of other labs.



CoA on premix,
quantitative tests of all
added micronutrients


Central Milling

QC Activities:

1. Fortificant inventory control

2. Feeder checks
3. Iron spot tests (if applicable)
4. Flour sampling

Runs quantitative tests

on indicator nutrient and
other tests

External Qualitative Test

Flour Testing Laboratory

The Central Lab can be part of a milling association, a large milling company, or
an independent lab/organization designate, providing routine testing service for
mills, particularly smaller mills that do not have testing capabilities. This would
include quantitative tests of the indicator nutrient not normally run by the mills

The Government Lab and Food Control Agency is associated with the
enforcement and regulatory function of the central government. It may do
quantitative testing of flour samples collected at mills, homes and markets during
mill audits. Its analytical capacity is more advanced, and may also be involved
with coverage and effectiveness studies.

The Reference Lab is typically an outside, certified lab with the ability to run
quantitative tests on all added nutrients. It may be located in another country. It
would be used to resolve disputes on fortification levels and to determine whether
the other labs are providing accurate results.

Premix suppliers have their own labs for assaying micronutrient content on their
premixes. They may also provide flour testing services to their premix customers,
usually at no cost.

Quality control schedule

Suggested activities for mill level quality control of fortified flour:

Check premix feeder controller hourly (that low level indicator is not lit and speed
detector shows it is running)
Run feeder check weights at least every 8 hour shift.
Run iron spot tests at least every 8 hour shift.
Conduct inventory control of premix usage and fortified flour production at least
The responsibility, frequency, protocol and reporting for the above
activities should be spelled out in the mill QA manual and
communicated to all involved mill personnel. All reporting must be to
someone with the authority and the ability to act on the information.

Dynamic Monitoring
Problems and actions: Adjusting quality control test frequency

If spot tests show that levels of the nutrient tested are lower than the factory
minimum or higher than the maximum tolerable level, (see next page), then
sampling frequency should be increased and corrective actions should be taken.

If on 2 out of 5 consecutive sampling times the product fails to meet the technical
requirements, the intensity of sampling should be changed to a more demanding
intensity, and corrective actions should be implemented.

If the next 2 out of 5 consecutive sampling periods results in failure to meet

requirements, the production should be stopped until the source of error is found
and the necessary corrective measures are introduced.

Once production is started again, sampling should be more frequent.

A less frequent schedule can be adopted, if in 3 consecutive sampling periods for

each category, the quality control results are correct.

Upper Levels

External Monitoring by the Authorities

Roles of external authorities in flour fortification:

Checking the performance and records of the producers quality

assurance procedures (technical or off-site auditing)
Confirming that technical specifications are fulfilled in the product at
factories, packaging sites and points of entry into the country (inspection
or on-site auditing)
Inspecting and verifying legal compliance (should be based on the
analytical assessment of the nutrient content by means of a quantitative

All samples should contain the fortificant, and at least 80% of

samples in factories, importation sites, and warehouses should
present the legal minimum.

Less then 20% of them should have a nutrient content above but
always near the maximum tolerable level, if one has been

External Monitoring by the Authorities

Government Auditing
There are two types of audits:

One is technical or off-site audits where a government official or

designate reviews information supplied by mills, or milling association if it
has been designated to collect data, to determine whether flour is
fortified correctly. This may be done quarterly.

The other type of audit is inspection or on-site audit where authorized

environmental health officers visit the mill to determine if the mill is
properly fortifying flour and to validate that data being supplied in the offsite audits.
Some government food control agencies will adjust the frequency of onsite audits depending on how well the mill has performed in the past, and
how many complaints or violations have been reported for the mill.

Section Five

Keys to Effective Marketing

Types of Flour Fortification Programs
Marketing Strategies
Consumer Concerns
Marketing Samples
Government Support

Types of Flour Fortification

To know how to best market fortified flour, first consider the type of program being
used. The World Health Organization has described three basic types:
1. Targeted fortification is for specific population groups. Examples include food aid,
complementary foods for infants and young children, food developed for school feeding
programs and foods designed for the sick and elderly.
2. Mass fortification describes the widespread addition of one or more nutrients to foods
commonly consumed by the general pubic, such as cereal flours, sugar and vegetable
oil, to correct known deficiency problems in the general population.
3. Market-driven fortification describes food manufacturers which voluntarily fortify some
of their processed food products to enhance the nutritional quality and public image of
those products.

Voluntary versus Mandatory

Targeted and mass fortification may be mandatory or voluntary.

Mass fortification is generally mandatory, in which case it becomes

a true public health program benefiting the majority of the

Market-driven fortification (also referred to as open-market,

industry-driven or private label fortification) is always voluntary. It
will provide a health benefit to segments of the population but can
not be considered a public health program.

Some countries, like the United States, do not mandate flour

fortification nationally, but make it so difficult to sell non-fortified
flour that it becomes universally practiced by the milling industry,
thereby making it a true public health program.

Marketing Strategies
Marketing strategies differ according to type of fortification.
For example:

In a targeted situation, the company markets to a specific group, say school or

hospital feeding, within the requirements set by government, school system, or
organization that is purchasing and distributing the product. There is little need
for promotion since the fortification of the flour would be specified by the
customer. The cost of fortification would be factored into the selling price and
would not be a constraint.

With mandatory or universal mass fortification, companies fortify to national

standards. They are not likely to heavily promote their product since other
bakeries offer the same or similar product. They might promote that they have
better quality and control over fortification. Cost would be an important

In a market-driven situation, companies add whatever types and levels of

nutrients they think would sell , following national regulations that might exist.
They promote the product, especially at the start, to get consumer interest.
They live with higher costs, within reason, since they expect higher market
share, sales and profits.

Marketing Strategies

The mix of marketing strategies and tools will differ depending on

perceptions of costs and benefits. Where the perceived costs are high
and benefits low, government regulation may be needed to ensure all
flour products are fortified.

Where perceived costs are low and benefits high, consumer information
and education may be sufficient to add value.

When the perception of costs and benefits are mixed, marketing tools
such as advertising and promotion may also be needed to build
consumer perceptions of added value.

Fortified Flour is a Better Product

Fortified flour is superior nutritionally to flour that has not had vitamins
and mineral added.

Fortified flour is "natural" the vitamins and mineral added are already in
wheat, but many are removed in industrial milling.

Fortified flour will not be different from non-fortified in terms of color,

texture, taste or shelf life. In other words, it is invisible. The consumer will
not know that the flour or baked products made from the flour is fortified,
unless they are told.

Fortified flour improves nutrition and reduces vitamin and mineral


Recognize and Research Consumer Concerns

As flour is a traditional food staple, consumers may be concerned about any


Flour may be seen as a special, pure and/or natural product. Added substances,
even replacing those lost in milling, may raise concern about product quality.

Some consumers may resist even a slightly higher price.

When prices are controlled by government or a competitive environment, millers

may be concerned about any higher production costs.

Wholesale fortified flour purchasers and re-processors are usually very sensitive
about product quality and price.

Learn from and use research to identify specific concerns and find those
characteristics of fortified flour that are most appealing to consumers.

See Morocco logo study on separate file on this CD for example of consumer research

Logo Examples
Three country logos are shown below. South Africa did consumer pretesting of different options for fortified foods logo that would eventually
appear on all fortified products. Consumers chose the logo at bottom
right with three children representing the ethnic diversity of South
Africans with the rising sun in the background.

Packaging Examples


Develop Government Support

Governments can provide various fiscal incentives that offset or reduce mill costs for
fortifying flour including reduced or no VAT, tariff or duty on premix, wheat or other

Examples of international donor supported government strategies to support

production and marketing fortified flour.

Check services projects that promote fortified flour and have international donor support.
Micronutrient Initiative, Flour Fortification Initiative, A2Z Project, Iron Deficiency Project
Advisory Service, GAIN

Section Six

Cost Issues
Basic Pricing Information
Premix and Ingredient Costs
Equipment costs
Lab Expenses
Miscellaneous Expenses

Basic Pricing Information

The costs of fortifying flour are often less significant to mill profits than annual
and semiannual changes wheat costs other mill input costs.
A very small price increase will pay the slightly higher costs of fortified flour
and should also provide added profit for bakers, pasta makers and others.
For millers:

US$1.00 - $2.00 metric ton (roughly 0.5 to 1% the cost of wheat

For bakers and re-processors:

US $0.05 - $0.10 per 50 kilogram of flour

For consumers:

< US $0.01 per 5 kilogram bag of four

< US $0.003 per 1.5 kilogram loaf of bread,

< US$0.0001 for 250 grams pasta.

Premix and Ingredient Costs

The major recurring cost of flour fortification is in the vitamin/mineral premix

added to the flour on the production line.

Different vitamins and minerals have different costs, as do different forms of

some vitamins and minerals, so premix cost varies based on the ingredients.

The premix costs also covers fillers, production and packaging, and marketing

Larger quantities ordered, and often a commitment to purchase premix from a

single supplier for a longer period, reduces the costs of the premix.

In some cases, governments eliminate various taxes on premix or on flour and

flour products that are fortified. This also lowers the cost of fortifying flour.

* Disclaimer: All cost information represented in this section is general and should
be used with caution. Actual costs may vary by as much as 30% and is
dependent on manufacturer, location, amount ordered, etc.

Estimated Premix Costs

Estimated Costs (USD) for select nutrients per one metric ton of flour:

$ per MT of flour

Iron + folic acid

$0.85 - $1.10

Iron as NaFeEDTA + folic acid

$2.50 - $3.00

Iron, folic acid, other B


$1.60 - $2.00

Iron, folic acid, other B

vitamins, vitamin A

$2.85 - $8.00

These prices indicate the estimated cost of premix and should NOT be used as official
market prices. These prices do not reflect shipping, import duties and value added tax.
Millers must always request price quotations for premix from more than two suppliers to
ensure that they are getting competitive prices.

Equipment Costs

Two basic options for

adding premix during
production are through
feeders that and through
use of large blenders.
In general the cost of
feeders varies with the
capacity of the production
line and optional


Cost Range (USD)

Option One: Feeders

Volumetric Feeder

$1,000 - $8,000

Gravimetric Feeder

$5,000 - $20,000

Loss-of-weight Feeder

$10,000 - $21,000

Powder Feeder

$1,000 - $25,000

Electronic Scales

$100 - $2000

Option Two: Blenders

Costs shown do not
include shipping, import
duties or value added
Installation costs are
generally about 5% of
feeder costs.

Horizontal Ribbon

$9,000 - $130,000

Horizontal Paddle

$9,000 - $130,000

Rotary Batch Blender

$35,000 - $170,000

Vertical Batch Mixer

$15,000 - $200,000

Lab Expenses

Extensive quantitative testing at mills is seldom needed for reasonable quality

control. Laboratories which need to purchase equipment might incur substantial
costs such as:

Ashing / Fume Hood - $3,400 - $16,625

Muffle Furnace - $1,150 - $3,200

Spectrophotometer - $8,510 - $15,750

Most mills use well established qualitative testing methods, (iron spot test costs
ranges from US $2.00- 5.00 per test ). Mills periodically send samples to outside
facilities for more precise measurement. (US$10 - $100) per test)

Some premix companies provide quantitative testing services of fortified flour at

low cost or free of charge.

Some government flour fortification projects include central reference

laboratories that do precise quantitative testing of the micronutrient levels in
flour, fortified flour and fortified flour products, including analysis of samples
sent periodically from mills.

* Disclaimer: All cost information represented in this section is general and should be used
with caution. Actual costs may vary by as much as 30% and is dependent on
manufacturer, location, amount ordered, etc.

Miscellaneous Expenses
Most mills that begin fortifying flour can expect some additional initial expenses beyond
equipment and installation:

production line training

quality control

premix ordering and handling,

new package labels

marketing costs for the new product to wholesalers and major flour product
producers (bakers, pasta makers, etc).
Most mills will also have recurrent costs associated with ongoing production of the
improved product:

costs of premix

added production line costs related to premix addition

added costs of additional quality control tests

Additional recurrent costs should be offset by small increase in product price and
increased sales based on improvement to product.

Thank You

For more information, see: