Microcapsules against malnutrition
How foods are enriched with vitamin A from BASF
Vitamin A deficiency is a serious problem in emerging and developing countries. Children under the age of 5 are particularly affected – up to 250 million worldwide according to World Health Organization estimates. People who suffer from this form of malnutrition can go blind and are more susceptible to infections because of their weakened immune system. With its expertise, BASF is supporting the fight against malnutrition. This is done by fortifying staple foods with specially protected vitamin A.
With the method known as food fortification, staple foods are enriched with vitamins and minerals that they either do not naturally contain or that are present in only small amounts. The vitamin A used to fortify oil, flour and sugar is manufactured by BASF in Ludwigshafen: The starting substance, citral, is converted into high-quality vitamin A in a multistage process. Vitamin A is liquid, fat-soluble and can only be mixed directly with cooking oil.
In order for it to be mixed with solid foods such as flour and sugar, the vitamin A is specially formulated at BASF’s Ballerup site in Denmark. Vitamin A droplets are packaged into microscopic spheres and are thus protected against harmful influences, such as high temperatures. In this process known as “microencapsulation”, the vitamin A droplets are enveloped in a starch or gelatin powder.
In countries like Brazil, Tanzania or Indonesia, BASF experts explain how to fortify foods with vitamin A to local food producers. Important aspects include modifying production processes and ensuring the correct dosage of the vitamin.
Fortifying staple foods with specially encapsulated vitamin A can prevent people in developing countries from going blind.
A spot test kit developed by BASF allows food producers to check the concentration of the vitamin during the food fortification process.
INNOVATIONS IN CHEMISTRY HELP PEOPLE AROUND THE GLOBE
- Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness and weakening of the immune system, particularly in people in emerging and developing countries
- Malnutrition can be fought by enriching staple foods with vitamins and minerals
- BASF has developed a process that makes it possible to add liquid, fat-soluble vitamin A to foods such as flour and sugar
- BASF experts explain to local food producers how they can fortify foods with vitamin A