New Funding Awarded to Two Projects Working to Strengthen Evidence-Based Large-Scale Food Fortification

February 23, 2024
hands holding rice

By Jessie Genoway

The Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), a nonprofit organization based at the Rollins School of Public Health, and its partners are working to fill large-scale food fortification (LSFF) data gaps and make already-available LSFF data accessible and actionable for decision-makers worldwide through two projects supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Literature Review Demonstrating Impact of Food Fortification

One grant of $300,000 will support FFI for one year to conduct a literature review of evidence on the impact of LSFF for 10 commonly fortified staple foods: bouillon, fish sauce, maize flour, milk, oil, rice, salt, soy sauce, sugar, and wheat flour. Fortification, the process of adding small amounts of vitamins and minerals (also known as micronutrients) to foods that people consume every day, is a long-established nutrition strategy practiced in more than 100 countries around the world. When mandated by governments and implemented on a large scale, fortification positively impacts a population’s health and a nation’s development, reducing maternal mortality, preventing birth defects, and promoting childhood growth.

The comprehensive literature review project will gather available evidence for the impact of food fortification on nutrient intake, nutritional status, and functional outcomes like reductions in the number of babies born with a neural tube defect (such as spina bifida and anencephaly).

“We hope this project will help inform the fortification policies and practices in countries that are planning or reviewing their existing LSFF programs,” says Helena Pachón, PhD, principal investigator of the project and research director of FFI. 

Using this evidence, decision-makers can create effective fortification programs that ultimately reduce micronutrient deficiencies and improve lives.

Expanding the Global Fortification Data Exchange 

A second grant of $1.5 million has been awarded to a consortium of partners led by the Micronutrient Data Innovation Alliance (DInA) to strengthen the Global Fortification Data Exchange (GFDx). Consortium members include the Micronutrient Forum, FFI at the Rollins School of Public Health, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, and the Iodine Global Network. GFDx, a web-based analysis and visualization tool on food fortification launched in September 2017, is the most comprehensive database of LSFF information, providing national-level data for 196 countries. Widely used by global LSFF actors, it has been extensively cited in influential reports and journal articles, including the Global Nutrition Report, the 2023 World Health Assembly Resolution on Food Fortification, the 2022 WHO guidelines on wheat flour fortification, and the Food Systems Dashboard

This new two-year grant will facilitate the expansion of the GFDx database, empowering national actors with the necessary data and insights to make informed decisions regarding LSFF initiatives.

Both grants are rooted in a strong network of partners with extensive experience working with and collecting LSFF data. By strengthening the evidence base for LSFF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FFI, Micronutrient Forum, Global Alliance Improved Nutrition, and Iodine Global Network demonstrate their commitment to a healthier world and a more resilient future.

About the Food Fortification Initiative

FFI is a public, private, and civic partnership that aims to improve health globally by assisting governments, regional bodies, civil society partners, and food producers to plan, implement, and monitor food fortification programs. Based at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, FFI has worked for more than 20 years across geographies to support the large-scale fortification of flour and rice with essential nutrients like iron, folic acid, and zinc to combat micronutrient deficiencies and their consequences, including iron-deficiency anemia and birth defects of the brain and spine.

For more information about FFI’s work, please visit