Chinese experts defend iron-fortified soy sauce

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Health experts in China have defended iron-fortified soy sauce as an effective and safe way to reduce anemia after claims emerged that it could cause cancer and other health problems.

The dispute began shortly after the launch of the second phase of soy sauce fortification project – which aims to expand coverage to more people across the country.

Some Chinese media reported fears that fortified soy sauce could cause cancer after Bao Shanfen, an expert in trace elements at the Chinese PLA General Hospital, said the modified soy sauce might affect the absorption of other trace elements and harm children's bone growth.

But according to a statement issued by the Food Fortification Office of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), the enriched soy sauce could promote the trace elements absorption, rather than block them.

The statement added that food fortification was an internationally recognized method to reduce deficiencies of trace elements, with a quarter of the total iron intake of Americans and Canadians coming from iron-fortified flour.

According to a project overview of the first stage of the project, data collected from 21 health clinics revealed that anemia in women and children dropped by a third after iron was added to soy sauce.

"Around 3 to 4 milligrams of iron through soy sauce every day would do no harm to people who are not iron-deficient or anemic,"​ said Huo Junsheng, deputy director of the Food Fortification Office.

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