Iron deficiency has long been a curse for half of the developing world's infants and undermines the health of 500 million women of reproductive age. Now, an iron compound developed by AkzoNobel is winning widespread recognition as a potential agent of change for millions of people.
Recent estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that more than 1.2 billion people suffer from iron deficiency anemia – making it the most common and widespread nutritional disorder affecting the world's population.
For years health officials have worked ceaselessly to put together an effective package of measures to tackle the problem – including food fortification and iron supplementation. Traditionally, vitamins and minerals have been added to staple foods to combat deficiencies. Fortifying food with iron, however, has always been a headache as numerous fortification programs have not shown an improvement in iron status.
AkzoNobel’s Chelates business has developed a proven solution in Ferrazone®, a food-grade ferric sodium EDTA, which can be used as a nutritional ingredient to improve the iron status of anemic individuals. Ferrazone is absorbed well in the body; it doesn’t leave the unpleasant metallic aftertaste often associated with traditional iron forms. Most importantly, it is demonstrated to be safe for human consumption.
Enormous potential for change
Many countries have fortification programs for flour, generally using elemental iron powder. Recent studies, however, have resulted in a leading group of experts throwing their weight behind ferric sodium EDTA as the only suitable iron source for high extraction flour and the best technical recommendation for low extraction flour in wheat and maize flour fortification. Last year, WHO also gave Ferrazone its wholehearted backing as the best option available for combating iron deficiency in human body.
With more prominent allies in the World Bank, UNICEF, the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), as well as countless food and nutritional ingredients companies, AkzoNobel believes it can substantially contribute to improving the health of millions of people.
Officials at AkzoNobel believe the potential for change is enormous. For less than half a U.S. dollar per annum per person this still widespread public health problem can be largely eradicated. In fact, no other options exist that will result in such a marked improvement in health levels in the developing world for so little money.