Food and Drinking Water to Be Fortified with Minerals

Xinhua, 29 October 2002

SHENYANG, Oct. 29 (Xinhua)—The Chinese government will fortify its food and drinking water with minerals and micro, or trace, elements good for human health, a health official has said.

Yu Xiaodong, director of the National Public Nutrition and Development Center, said on Monday that some nutrients will be added to the purified water in the same way China iodized its salt years ago.

Sources noted that a research institute of fine chemical and biological engineering in northern Liaoning province had, after more than a decade's strenuous efforts, invented a concentrated mineral liquid for water fortification.

It can greatly improve public health by supplementing insufficient minerals and micro-elements in the human body, institute head Han Zhongmin said.

Water fortification is a cooperation project among the Chinese government, the Asia Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Children's Fund for bettering public health in China.

People in China often absorb too few or too many minerals and micro-elements from their drinking water, resulting in endemic diseases like anemia, according to experts.

Moreover, institute officials said they are working to developing different types of fortified drinking water in compliance with different regions, ages, sexes, and people.

The public can afford the fortified water since it costs almost the same as the ordinary purified water, Yu said.

Yu also noted that the fortified water has passed strict examinations and won approval from the government and, therefore, it is safe.

Water is only part of a larger plan that includes fortifying food. Iron-fortified flour is also under trial in western Gansu province and northern Hebei province.

So far, 11 domestic firms have undergone tests in the fields of production technological processes, equipment, sanitation and management, and received the go-ahead from the government to sell iron-fortified soy sauce in the country.