Promotional opportunities in fortification
Government agencies recommend vitamin D, potassium and folic acid.

KANSAS CITY — Government actions may be burdensome for food companies. Take food safety regulations for example. Yet this year government reports have given companies promotional opportunities in fortified products.

Both the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and a newly unveiled Nutrition Facts Panel praise vitamin D and potassium. Folic acid also now may be added to another food product, corn masa flour.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The newest version lists calcium, potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin D as nutrients of public health concern because low intakes are associated with health concerns.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a final rule on changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel in the May 27 issue of the Federal Register. The final rule requires the declaration of vitamin D and potassium.

The F.D.A. determined vitamin D is a nutrient of public health significance given the benefits of adequate vitamin D intakes on bone health, data indicating inadequate intakes, poor vitamin D status, and high prevalence of osteoporosis and osteopenia among the general U.S. population.

The F.D.A. determined potassium is a nutrient of public health significance given the benefits of adequate potassium intake in lowering blood pressure, reflected in the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intake, and data indicating low likelihood of potassium adequacy and high prevalence of hypertension among the general population.

Vitamin D in yeast

Yeast and leavening agents present opportunities to add vitamin D and potassium, respectively, to grain-based foods.

Montreal-based Lallemand offers baker’s yeast with vitamin D. Using yeast high in vitamin D content allows companies to go up to 400 International Units (I.U.) per 100 grams, said Gary Edwards, president of Lallemand/American Yeast Division.

“This is more than sufficient in almost all instances to achieve an ‘excellent’ or at a minimum ‘good’ source claim,” he said. “Vitamin D from yeast is not a fortification. The D is a naturally occurring component in yeast that can be increased during yeast production. If a baker just adds vitamin D as an ingredient, then it is fortification.”

When adding vitamin D as an ingredient, instead of adding vitamin D yeast, a baker is bound by an upper limit of 90 I.U.s per 100 grams, Mr. Edwards said.

“At that level, an excellent claim is virtually impossible, and even a good claim is difficult,” he said.

Potassium awareness

Consumers, as well as government agencies, are noticing potassium. The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2016 Food and Health Survey found 48% of respondents said they were trying to consume potassium, which was up from 26% in 2015 and 19% in 2014.

For a source of potassium, Church & Dwight, Inc., Ewing, N.J., offers Flow-K potassium bicarbonate, which has been shown to replace standard sodium bicarbonate, adjusted for differences in neutralizing values. Flow-K potassium bicarbonate has 39.06 grams of potassium per 100-gram serving. When used in typical leavening applications, Flow-K has been shown to add 0.1% to 0.8% of potassium to the food application, according to Church & Dwight.

Flow-K has no metallic or fish taste, according to Church & Dwight. It has been shown to enhance the sweetness of sugar and other sweeteners, and it has been shown to mitigate the bitter aftertaste often associated with artificial sweeteners. Flow-K has been shown to work in a variety of baked foods, including biscuits, muffins, cookies, cakes and pancakes.

An F.D.A. health claim reads, “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.” Potassium plays a critical role in the maintenance of cellular isotonic balance, the proper functioning of muscle tissue, the development and continuing health of bones, and kidney function, according to Armand Products Co., Princeton, N.J.

To achieve a claim of “good source of potassium,” a food item would need 10% to 19% of the Daily Value, or 350 mg to 665 mg per serving. An “excellent source” claim would need 20% or more of the Daily Value.

Other possible claims, according to Armand Products, include “helps maintain proper electrolyte balance,” “helps reduce muscle cramps and spasms” and “essential to cardiovascular function.”

Armand Products recommends companies confer with the F.D.A. concerning regulatory requirements.

Potassium bicarbonate is formed by reacting carbon dioxide with potassium carbonate. It is about 39% potassium. Possible grain-based food applications are cereal and nutritional, energy and meal replacement bars.

“Potassium bicarbonate actually imparts a sweet taste to many foods and can enhance the sweetening effect of sugar and artificial sweeteners, at levels near the 10% D.V. per serving,” Armand Products said. “It also mitigates the bitter aftertaste often associated with artificial sweeteners.”

Another folic acid avenue

For folic acid, the F.D.A. has recognized its importance for nearly two decades. The agency in 1998 mandated folic acid fortification of enriched grains. On April 14 of this year the F.D.A. approved folic acid fortification of corn masa flour. Manufacturers now voluntarily may add up to 0.7 mg of folic acid per lb of corn masa flour. Corn masa flour, a staple for many Latin Americans, may be used to make such items as tortillas, tortilla chips, tamales, taco shells and corn chips.

Promotional opportunities in fortification
Folic acid fortification of corn masa flour may increase the nutritional content of tortillas.

“Increased consumption of folic acid in enriched flour has been helpful in reducing the incidence of neural tube defects in the general population,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Our analysis shows that adding folic acid to corn masa flour will help increase the consumption of folic acid by women who consume this flour as a staple in their diet.”

Consumer awareness of folic acid still could improve. A 2014 survey from the Grain Foods Foundation, Washington, found 38% of the more than 2,000 U.S adults who responded were aware of the positive benefits that folic acid provides in preventing birth defects. The Grain Foods Foundation and the Spina Bifida Association have worked together to stress the importance of folic acid.