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May 12, 1978

The Safety of Iron-Fortified Food

Author Affiliations

Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation La Jolla, Calif

JAMA. 1978;239(19):2026-2027. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280460094033

The addition of extraneous chemicals to our diet is a topic of acrimonious controversy. Food additives, by and large, have probably done more good than harm: iodine in salt to prevent goiter and vitamin D in milk to prevent rickets are two good examples; salt in baby food and sugar in breakfast food are two examples not so good.

The fortification of food with iron is a problem more complex than most others.1 It is intended to prevent iron deficiency, and the target population is among the menstruating women. Men and postmenopausal women, unless they bleed, rarely become iron deficient. The size and even the constituents of the target are not yet clearly defined. One government survey demonstrated, in a sample of 30,000 people, that 20% of the men had iron deficiency anemia.2 Several years later, another government survey demonstrated that only 2% of the women were iron

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