A lot of the time, the terms “enrichment” and “fortification” with regards to different foods are used in the same way. However, these terms do not actually mean the exact same thing. Personally, I think a lot of people may not know the difference without a little research or without someone telling them. So, that’s exactly what I’m here to do for you.
The difference between enriching and fortifying foods is actually quite a small difference, but it is still important to know when trying to understand what each term means.
According to a review of the fortification of foods published under the United States Department of Agriculture and written by Judith Quick and Elizabeth Murphy, the terms “enrichment” or “enriched” are “usually used to describe the addition of nutrients already present in a food. No new nutrients are added, but the levels of naturally occurring nutrients are enhanced, usually to meet a legal standard” . Additionally, in this same review, the authors state, “The terms ‘fortification’ or ‘fortified’ are used to describe the addition of nutrients not naturally present in a food” . Also, fortification to foods is not required by the Food and Drug Administration, but is voluntary.
So, it can be concluded that to enrich food means to add to the nutrients that are already naturally there to begin with, whereas fortifying food means adding nutrients to a food product that did not already have that nutrients naturally.
An example of an enriched food would be the addition of “thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron to wheat flour” . These nutrients already exist within wheat flour naturally and are simply enhanced with the enrichment process. An example of fortification would be “the addition of vitamin D to milk” .
Now that you know the difference, while foods that are enriched and fortified are beneficial for those who are not able to get enough nutrients without consuming these types of foods, it is important to keep in mind how much of which nutrients you are intaking to make sure you do not over consume any nutrients.
Author: Lauryn Agron
Editor: Sophia Galvez
Health scientist: Rashda Saima
1. Quick, J. A., & Murphy, E. W. (1982). The fortification of foods: A Review. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Science Program.