Maputo — Shops and other businesses who sell basic foodstuffs that have not been fortified with micro-nutrients risk seeing their merchandise seized and removed from the shelves as from March 2018.
Rita Freitas, the general inspector of the government's National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE), gave the warning on Friday at a seminar on progress made so far in the National Food Fortification Programme. The programme is aimed at promoting consumption of food fortified with micronutrients in order to reduce chronic malnutrition, mainly among children under five years of age.
Freitas said that, as from March next year, all maize flour, wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar and salt sold in the country must be fortified. She promised that INAE will check on the sale of these products in shops and markets.
In September the Mozambican authorities banned the import on non-fortified basic foods. But there are believed to be many stocks of non-fortified foods, and the owners have been given until March 2018 to dispose of them.
The National Coordinator of the Food Fortification Programme, Eduarda Mungoi, told the meeting that this year over three million Mozambicans have consumed fortified wheat flour. She expected this number to rise to 14 million in 2018.
Around 43 per cent of children in Mozambique suffer from chronic malnutrition. This is caused not only by an absolute shortage of food, but by a poor diet, lacking in key nutrients. The micro-nutrients added include vitamin A, folic acid, iron, zinc and iodine (the latter is usually added to salt).
Although the micro-nutrients are added to foods in very small amounts, and are usually consumed at a rate of less than 100 milligrams per day, they are critical for good health, For example, vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness and reduces the body's ability to fight infection. Iron deficiency causes anaemia, while zinc deficiency can increase the risks of diarrhea and pneumonia, and iodine deficiency can lead to goiters.