Rapid quantification of iron content in fish sauce and soy sauce: a promising tool for monitoring fortification programs

Background: In a number of Southeast Asian countries and China, fish sauce and soy sauce produced at the industrial level are fortified with iron. Unfortunately, the food producers and regulatory agencies implementing fortification programs do not always have the capacity to monitor the programs on an ongoing basis.

Objective: To assess a new portable device for the quantitative measurement of iron content of fortified sauces that could be used to control fortification levels.

Methods: The linearity, detection limits, and inter- and intraassay variability of this device were assessed on fish sauce and soy sauce fortified with ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, and sodium iron ethylenediaminetetraacetate (NaFeEDTA); the accuracy of the results was determined by comparing them with the results obtained by atomic absorption spectrophotometry.

Results: Measurements required a minimum incubation time of 1 hour for iron sulfate or iron fumarate and 24 hours for NaFeEDTA. Linearity of the results ranged from 2 to 10 mg iron/L for ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate and from 1 to 10 mg iron/L for NaFeEDTA, implying the need for proper dilution, as the iron contents of fortified sauce are usually in the range of 150 to 1,000 mg/L. Depending on incubation time, iron compounds, and sauces, the coefficient of variation (CV) of intraassay precision was between 1.5% and 7.6% and the CV of interassay precision was between 2.9% and 7.4%. Comparison with results from atomic absorption spectrophotometry showed high agreement between both methods, with R = 0.926 and R = 0.935 for incubation times of 1 hour and 24 hours, respectively. The Bland—Altman plots showed limits of agreement between the two methods of ± 70 mg/L in the range of fortification levels tested (100 to 500 mg/L).

Conclusions: This device offers a viable method for field monitoring of iron fortification of soy and fish sauces after incubation times of 1 hour for ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate and 24 hours for NaFeEDTA.



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