Fortifying complementary foods with NaFeEDTA - considerations for developing countries


As a highly bioavailable iron compound, sodium iron (iii) ethylenediaminetetraacetate (NaFeEDTA) has been recommended as a food additive for fortification. The amount of a food additive that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk is termed the acceptable daily intake (ADI). The ADI for NaFeEDTA is based on body weight. For complementary foods and food supplements for infants and young children in low‐income countries, where prevalence of underweight is high yet nutrient needs are also high, it is not clear which doses might be appropriate. The objective is to calculate the dosage of NaFeEDTA for fortifying complementary foods assuming different population prevalences of underweight.

Mathematical models were used to simulate the dosage of NaFeEDTA for 6‐ to 8‐month‐old infants under different prevalences of underweight ranging from 5% to 40%. In order to keep NaFeEDTA intake below the ADI for ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA) recommended by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives for 95% of 6‐ to 8‐month‐old infants, the daily iron dose from NaFeEDTA in fortified complementary foods should be set between 2.2 mg and 1.8 mg in countries with a prevalence of underweight among 6‐ to 8‐month‐old infants between 5% and 40%, respectively. If 2 mg of iron is given to all 6‐ to 8‐month‐old infants, the percentage exceeding the ADI for EDTA would be <10% for populations with <30% of children who are underweight, which is the case for many countries. In conclusion, 2 mg of iron from NaFeEDTA could be used for fortifying one daily serving of complementary food to ensure EDTA levels are below the ADI for infants 6–8 months of age. An additional source of iron (such as ferrous sulfate) should be included to increase the iron dose to desired fortification levels.

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