Canada has a long history of fortification that is based, as in the United States, on previous conditions of nutrient deficiency in the population. The diversity of climate, sunlight exposure, soil biogeochemistry, food commerce, and population size across the country led to significant regional differences in the need and demand for fortification of the food supply within Canada.
In the early 1900s there were occasional observations of illness, such as beriberi and blindness, in segments of the population in Newfoundland and Labrador that were attributed to nutrient deficiencies (Aykroyd, 1928; Little, 1912). A survey of the clinical and biochemical nutritional status of 868 people in St. John’s and several outposts of Newfoundland was carried out in 1944 (Adamson et al., 1945). Clinical and biochemical signs of deficiencies of vitamin A, B vitamins, and ascorbic acid were prevalent in the group examined.
The first comprehensive nutrition surveys that were conducted in British Columbia and Saskatchewan in 1946 indicated that about 21 percent of children had a least one sign of clinical vitamin A deficiency and about 50 percent of school children had evidence of past rickets (Pett and Hanley, 1947). Newfoundland, not part of Canada at that time, promulgated the mandatory addition of nutrients to food to reduce nutrient deficiencies in the population, including adding calcium (as bone meal), iron, and B vitamins to flour and vitamin A to margarine (Lotfi, 2002).
The first comprehensive national nutrition survey, Nutrition Canada, was conducted in 1970–1972 and involved approximately 13,000 people. Many segments of the population had dietary intake inadequacies based on a 24-hour dietary recall, particularly of iron, calcium, vitamin D, and protein. Biochemical indicators confirmed iron deficiency among all groups in the population and low serum vitamin A levels in children and adolescents, but no clinical evidence of vitamin A deficiency or rickets (Canada, 1973). The survey also revealed that approximately 50 percent of the population was overweight (Canada, 1973, as cited in Lotfi, 2002).
The addition of vitamins and minerals to food is strictly controlled under the FDRs. The FDRs list the foods to which micronutrients