Puzzled by Product Packaging: Enriched vs. Fortified?

Fortified and enriched are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but have very different meanings. Fortified foods have had nutrients added that were not originally present without processing. Foods are often fortified with nutrients when Americans have shown the struggle obtaining adequate amounts from the nutrient’s natural sources. Here is a list of vitamins that are commonly fortified in the average American’s diet:

  • Vitamin D in milk or orange juice
  • Iron in cereals
  • Folate in bread products, flour, rice, and pasta

Enriched means nutrients that were already present in a food item but lost during processing have been put back in. Grains are an example of a product that are frequently enriched to make up for nutrient loss that occurred during processing. Bread is an excellent source of many nutrients required for a healthy body. Iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate are nutrients enriched in grain products.

These terms are seen on packages and signage all over the grocery store, and it can be confusing to know exactly what you are buying if you don’t know what they mean! Being knowledgeable in the dietary lingo can help you make healthy food purchases for you and your family.