EFSA expands opportunities for vitamin D fortification

By Nikki Hancocks contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Marian Vejcik
Getty | Marian Vejcik

Related tags: Vitamin d, Efsa, Regulation

Lallemand has successfully expanded the permitted categories of use for its vitamin D yeast in the EU after gaining favourable opinion from the EFSA for the use in 32 additional food categories.

The Canadian producer submitted a novel food dossier in May 2020 to extend the range of food products in which Lalmin vitamin D yeast is allowed. Until now, the ingredient has been permitted in baked products and food supplements only (since 2014).

A detailed food intake assessment including all food categories and intended population groups was provided and EFSA has acknowledged that the use of vitamin D yeast in this wide range of food categories is safe for all intended populations.

The updated EU Regulation​, authorizing the use of Lalmin vitamin D yeast in 34 food categories, is expected to be published by the end of 2021.

The 34 categories the ingredient is now allowed in include: infant formula, islated proteins and other protein products, maltodextrins and similar, fermented milk or cream, milk powders, vitamins, diet foods, algae, fungi, cereals, meat and dairy imitations, desserts and condiments.

Celia Martin, Global Regulatory Affairs Director for Lallemand Bio-Ingredients commented: “We are very proud of having been the first to obtain approval for a natural source of vitamin D produced through exposure of yeast to UV light. Our vitamin D yeast was the first UV-treated novel foods in the EU.

"With this extension of use we are now expanding its use in food applications and allowing for more foods to provide vitamin D. Evidence shows that vitamin D levels in the EU population are not adequate. Through our efforts, Lallemand can contribute to help address this important issue.”

An application dossier has also been submitted to the U.S. FDA with a petition to extend the use of Lalmin vitamin D yeast in 18 food categories. Approval is expected in 2022.

Vitamin D fortification requirement

As well as being essential in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, vitamin D is a key component of the immune system and modulates the immune response to protect against infections, including viral infections. There is clear scientific evidence that vitamin D levels are insufficient in the global population. 

A recent study​ concluded that an unrealistic increase in animal source foods and an increase in carbon footprint would currently be needed in order to meet the world population's vitamin D needs, unless more foods are fortified.

It pointed out that vitamin D deficiency is among the most neglected major public health problems worldwide​. This is because vitamin D produced in the skin from UVB light makes the greatest contribution to our vitamin D intake, however adequate sunlight exposure can be a challenge in many countries, especially during the winter.

To ensure that individuals consume adequate vitamin D, irrespective of their exposure to sunlight, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) set the adequate intake for vitamin D based on assumed low sun exposure and the intake needed in order to achieve a serum 25(OH)D of ≥50 nmol/L.

However only few foods naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D and they are mainly animal derived - oily fish, meat, dairy, and eggs - so shifting to more plant-based diets is likely to further aggravate the risk of deficiency, the authors said.

The study simulated the shifts needed within a Dutch “model diet” to overcome vitamin D shortfalls, as well as the consequences for calorie intake and carbon emissions. This was compared to extending the diet with fortified milk, bread, and vegetable oils.

The research concluded that the baseline diet provided about one fifth of the adequate intake of vitamin D from natural food sources and voluntary vitamin D-fortified foods. When optimising this diet for vitamin D, these food sources together were insufficient to meet the adequate intake required, unless the carbon emission and calorie intake were increased almost 3-fold.

When vitamin D-fortified bread, milk, and oil were added as options to the diet, along with increases in fish consumption, and decreases in sugar, snack, and cake consumption, adequate intakes for vitamin D and other nutrients could be met within the 2000 kcal limits, along with a relatively unchanged carbon footprint.

Related topics: Healthy foods, Policy

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