Enriching or fortifying foods with nutrients is called nutrification. Food enrichment is the restoration of the natural nutritive value of a food before it was processed, while fortification is the adding of vitamins or minerals to a food at levels higher than it originally possessed, though "fortification" is commonly used to refer to both processes.
Functional foods, designer foods, and techno-foods, are foods that are manufactured by food companies in collaboration with sellers of dietary supplements, in order to produce products that they can promote as healthy. Techno-foods “refer to foods and beverages that have been fortified in some way to confer health benefits beyond the original nutritional value of the foods themselves.”
Initially, fortification was used as a public health strategy in the United States to eradicate vitamin and mineral deficiencies. For example, through the addition of iodine to table salt, goiter, a thyroid gland dysfunction, is now very uncommon. Other examples include the addition of vitamin D to milk and fluoride to tap water.
As a public health measure, fortification has been very successful, though there are concerns that the “consumer must consciously desire and be involved in nutritional change” With fortification came the interweaving of science and commercial issues.. As with drugs, the benefits of nutrients are dose dependent, and eating too much of them can cause adverse effects [REFERENCE NEEDED]. Yet, fortification is used regularly as a marketing strategy, so that now most processed foods are fortified in some way. Continued proliferation of this practice raises the concern that fortification will become too much of a good thing, where nutrient content in food in general may eventually increase to levels detrimental to the population.
Economic issues pertaining to food fortification have also emerged. The wealthy, who may already eat enough nutrients, may be consuming more than they need when they purchase fortified products, while those in most need of the added nutrients may not be able to afford to buy enough fortified foods.
- Nestle, Food Politics, p 295
- Nestle, Food Politics, p 302
- Nestle, Food Politics, p 303