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The Bulawayo United Residents’ Association (Bura) has filed a High Court application challenging the mandatory food fortification regulations by the Health and Child Care ministry saying that there were no consultations carried to establish the needs and expectations of the consumers before the regulations were put in place.
They want the court to declare null and void sections 4(i), 5 and 7 of the Food Fortification Regulations 2016 Statutory Instrument 120/2016 published in the Government Gazette on October 24.
In its founding affidavit, Bura said residents who are the consumers of maize meal and wheat flour, were never consulted and no educational campaigns were done in the city.
Bura said mandatory fortification “makes a fatal assumption that everyone who resides or is visiting Zimbabwe has a nutrient deficiency”.
It said the implementation of the regulations was unreasonable as they fail to set in place indicators for persons with sufficient nutrients to choose not to take additional fortificants which are unnecessary and may cause harm to their health.
Bura said there were fears of job losses and price increases if food fortification was to be made mandatory without putting in place measures to ensure the equipment and fortificants were made available locally.
The Health and Child Care minister is the first respondent and the Attorney-General is the second respondent.
Last week, the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe filed a High Court application seeking to block the government from implementing mandatory food fortification.
The mandatory food fortification was effected at the beginning of September and is intended to add minute levels of vitamins and minerals to foods during processing.
It entails addition of one or more micronutrients during processing regardless of whether the nutrient is present or not in the said food to increase micro-nutrient intake in a population.
It is one of many ways to prevent and control micronutrient deficiency diseases like goitre, anaemia, impaired vision and mental retardation.
In terms of the government regulations, sugar will be fortified with vitamin A, cooking oil with vitamins A and D and wheat flour and maize meal with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, iron and zinc before packaging. newsday