What is Fortification of Food?
- Fortification is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content. These nutrients may or may not have been originally present in the food before processing.
Why do we need Fortification of Food?
- 70% of people in India do not consume enough micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
- According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015-16:
- 58.4 percent of children (6-59 months) are anaemic
- 53.1 percent women in the reproductive age group are anaemic
- 35.7 percent of children under 5 are underweight
- Thus, deficiency of micronutrients or micronutrient malnutrition, also known as “hidden hunger”, is a serious health risk.
- Fortification method complements other ways to improve nutrition such as diversification of diet and supplementation of food.
What are the benefits of Fortification?
- Since the nutrients are added to staple foods that are widely consumed, this is an excellent method to improve the health of a large section of the population, all at once.
- Fortification is a safe method of improving nutrition among people. The addition of micronutrients to food does not pose a health risk to people. The quantity added is so small and so well regulated as per prescribed standards that likelihood of an overdose of nutrients is unlikely.
- It does not require any changes in food habits and patterns of people. It is a socio-culturally acceptable way to deliver nutrients to people.
- It does not alter the characteristics of the food—the taste, the feel, the look.
- It can be implemented quickly as well as show results in improvement of health in a relatively short period of time.
- This method is cost-effective especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms. The Copenhagen Consensus (a US non-profit think tank) estimates that every 1 Rupee spent on fortification results in 9 Rupees in benefits to the economy.
Food Fortification in India
- In October 2016, FSSAI operationalized the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016 for fortifying staples namely
- Wheat Flour and Rice with Iron, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid,
- Milk and Edible Oil with Vitamins A and D and
- Double Fortified Salt with Iodine and Iron
- The ‘+F’ logo has been notified to identify fortified foods.
Why in News?
- A total of 151 Districts (in 24 States) have lifted fortified rice under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) in Phase II of Rice Fortification Programme. Nearly 6.83 LMT have been distributed by the States/UTs under the phase which started from April 1, 2022.
- Prime Minister in his address on the 75th Independence Day (15th August, 2021), announced the supply of Fortified Rice in every scheme of Government of India throughout the country by 2024 in a phased manner. Since then, the initiative has made good progress during the last one year.
- Rice Fortification is the process of adding Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK), containing FSSAI prescribed micronutrients (Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12) to normal Rice (Custom Milled Rice) in the ratio of 1:100 (Mixing 1 Kg of FRK with 100 Kg custom milled rice).
- Fortified rice is nearly identical to traditional rice in aroma, taste, and texture. This process is done in the rice mills at the time of milling of rice.
- Rice fortification ecosystem has been enhanced significantly on boarding rice millers, FRK manufacturers, industries and other stakeholders for production and supply of fortified rice to meet the target requirement.
- Fortification of rice is found to be a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets with low turnaround time (TAT) and a step towards nutritional security and helps in fighting anaemia and malnutrition in the country. This strategy is implemented in many geographies in the world.