Landell Mills co-organises a panel discussion on food fortification at the European Parliament
On the 5th of February 2020, a panel discussion on food fortification was held at the European Parliament in Brussels, as part of the Food Fortification Advisory Services (2FAS) contract, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by Landell Mills in partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
The presentations from the panel were followed by a Q&A session for the audience, which included around 60 participants from the EU Parliament and Commissions, International Organisations, NGOs and the private sector.
Food fortification, the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods to make them more nutritious, is proven to have long-lasting positive effects on people's lives by reducing micronutrient deficiencies. While dietary diversification remains the core objective of nutrition interventions, food fortification is important in filling the gap in micronutrient intakes of populations, especially among poor households who struggle to have varied diets due to their financial constraints. Find out more here.
The panel was introduced by the hosting MEP, Mr Marc Tarabella and by Mr Willem Olthof, Deputy Head of Unit C1, Rural Development, Food Security & Nutrition at the European Commission's Directorate General for International Development and Cooperation (DEVCO). Mr Olthof started by reinforcing the EU's commitment to reduce stunting in children under five by at least 10% of the World Health Assembly (WHA) objective. To reach this objective, the EU has allocated EUR 3.5 billion to nutrition interventions between 2014 and 2020, 90% of which has been delivered to date.
The event key speaker, Dr. Lawrence Haddad, GAIN Executive Director and 2FAS Expert, gave a speech on the role of food fortification in supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In his presentation, Mr Haddad shared figures on the prevalence of micronutrient deficiency, also known as 'hidden hunger'. He highlighted how the issue, which is exacerbated by climate change, is declining slower than chronic malnutrition and in most African countries, is increasing. Dr Haddad also emphasised how large-scale food fortification has a high return on investment (for each US dollar invested, there is an estimated return of USD 27 in society) and encouraged the EU to increase its commitment to food fortification interventions.
Ms Helena Guarin, Head of Nutrition Sector, DEVCO, then discussed the current European Commission-supported food fortification programmes and the value of continued investment, stressing how EU nutrition interventions could fill the gap toward prevention of micronutrient deficiencies.
A country-focused perspective on the role of food fortification in tackling micronutrient deficiencies was shared by Professor Daniel Sila, Dean of the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya. Professor Sila presented some alarming figures related to micronutrient malnutrition in the country, and especially in rural areas. He also described positive preliminary results of an EU-funded project in Kenya, focused on enabling medium and small-scale maize milling enterprises to adequately fortify packaged maize meals based on the national standards.
Finally, Mr Steve Godfrey, Director, Policy and External Relations, GAIN, closed the session with some words of thanks to the speakers and the participants who, in the last part of the afternoon had the opportunity to observe samples of fortified foods on display.
About the Food Fortification Advisory Service
2FAS was established in December 2015 to support the European Commission DEVCO-C1 and its public and private sector stakeholders to achieve sustainable food fortification programmes that are integrated into national food systems. For more information on the project you can download a flyer or contact Flavio Bellomi, Senior Project Executive firstname.lastname@example.org
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