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Liberal fortification of foods: the risks. A study relating to Finland
  1. A Suojanen1,
  2. S Raulio1,
  3. M-L Ovaskainen2
  1. 1National Food Agency, Finland
  2. 2National Public Health Institute, Nutrition Unit, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Susanna Raulio, PO Box 28, FIN-00581 Helsinki, Finland;


Study objective: The free circulation of goods in the European Union (EU) has increased the number of fortified foods available to consumers in Finland. Fortification of foodstuffs with calcium is currently widespread. To assist decision making relating to fortification, the object of this study was to determine whether there might be a risk of excessive levels of calcium. The study was done using the dietary data of adult population by sex and calcium intake deciles, taking account of intakes of calcium from normal diets and from fortified foods.

Study design: Calcium intakes for deciles were calculated from dietary data of the population involved in the 1992 FINDIET survey. Calcium fortification was evaluated by considering foodstuffs to which calcium has already been added or which producers might wish to fortify and market in Finland. Situations in which a fortified product replaced its unfortified equivalent were envisaged. Daily calcium intakes (mg) from particular foodstuffs were calculated based on known amounts of calcium (mg) per 100 g of each foodstuff and amounts of each product consumed per day. Total calcium intakes of people in different deciles were calculated by adding amounts of calcium contributed by each fortified product to normal dietary intakes. Calcium intakes were also calculated for consumption by persons of all foodstuffs that are or intended to be fortified with calcium.

Study participants: Adults aged 25 to 64 representing populations in four regions of Finland, who recorded food consumption over three day periods in spring 1992.

Study setting: North Karelia, Kuopio Province, Turku-Loimaa, and the capital area Helsinki-Vantaa, Finland.

Main study results: The results indicate that the highest 10% of Finnish adult men receive on average 2315 mg calcium per day from diets that do not include fortified foodstuffs. These people whose energy consumption was high consumed substantial amounts of dairy products. Consumption of fortified foods would increase the calcium intake further to levels exceeding the tolerable upper intake level (2500 mg/d).

Conclusions: Liberal addition of calcium to various groups of foodstuffs could increase the calcium intake in the highest decile to levels with potentially untoward health effects. In assessing benefits and possible disadvantages of fortification of foodstuffs, the dietary habits of the population concerned, probable consumption of fortified products and nutritional intakes, especially at extremes, need to be taken into account, by total risk assessment.

  • calcium intake
  • fortification
  • simulation

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