iron deficiency anemia, cereal fortification, iron source


Iron deficiency anemia is a widespread occurrence. Consequently, iron is commonly added in cereal fortification programs. However, many iron sources cause undesirable sensory changes, especially color changes, in the food being fortified. This study evaluated the effect of different iron sources on CIE L*a*b* color values and sensory color perception in fortified corn tortillas. Corn masa flour was fortified with micronutrient premix containing vitamins, zinc, and one of eight iron compounds. Iron sources included ferrous fumarate (F), ferrous sulfate (S), ferric orthophosphate (OP), ferrous lactate (L), ferrous gluconate (G), ferric pyrophosphate (PP), sodium iron (III)-EDTA, and A-131 electrolytic iron (E), with addition levels adjusted based on bioavailability. Control (Ct) samples were prepared with all micronutrients except iron. All iron-fortified tortillas had lower L* values and were significantly darker than control tortillas. Based on instrumental color values and Mexican regulatory recommendations, five treatments were selected for further testing. A difference-from-control sensory test was conducted comparing PP, E, OP, F, and S with Ct tortillas. Sensory rankings were C t > E = PP > OP > F > S. A-131 electrolytic iron is recommended for fortification of corn tortillas due to minimal effect on color and significantly lower cost than other iron sources evaluated.

Original Publication Citation

Richins, A. T., Burton, K. E., Pahulu, H. F. Jefferies, L, and Dunn, M. L. "Effect of iron source on color and appearance of micronutrient-fortified corn flour tortillas." Cereal Chemistry. 85.4 (28): 561-565.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


American Association of Cereal Chemists




Life Sciences


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science