Food Fortification in India – Why is it Necessary?

To tackle the menace of Malnutrition, NITI Aayog seeks creation of roadmap by Department of Food and Public Distribution for taking the Rice Fortification Pilot Scheme Pan India.

About

  • The government, in February this year, had approved centre-sponsored pilot scheme on “Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System”.
  • Under this scheme rice is fortified with Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B-12. The Pilot Scheme had been approved for a period of three year beginning 2019-20.
  • Under the budget a total Rs 42.65 crore had been allocated.
  • Currently, the scheme focuses on 15 districts preferably 1 district per State during the initial phase of implementation.
  • The operational responsibilities for implementation of the pilot scheme lie with states which fortifies the rice for distribution through Public Distribution System (PDS).
  • This scheme will now be implemented across the country.

As of now, five staples-salt, oil, milk, flour and rice are being fortified.

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) to reduce the high burden of micronutrient malnutrition in India.

  1. The ‘+F’ logo has been notified to identify fortified foods.
  2. Food fortification can reduce or prevent the deficiency of one or more micro nutrients also known as “Hidden hunger” amongst the population.
  3. UPSC frequently asks questions from news related to FSSAI.

Need for rice fortification

  • 67 % of population in India consumes rice (NSSO, 68th round).
  • Rice forms a large source of calories and core component of agriculture and nutrition in most of India.
  • Milling of rice removes the fat and micronutrient rich bran layers to produce the commonly consumed starch white rice.
  • Polishing further removes 75-90% of Vitamin B- 1, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin-E and Niacin.


Food fortification in India

  • 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.
  • India’s National Nutritional strategy, 2017, had listed food fortification as one of the interventions to address anaemia, vitamin A and iodine deficiencies apart from supplementation and dietary diversification.
  • Malnutrition is a prominent issue in India — 38 per cent of children under five years are stunted i.e. too short for their age, 36 per cent are underweight and 21 per cent are wasted i.e. too thin for their height, which is a sign of acute under-nutrition.
  • 59 per cent women and 53 per cent children are anaemic.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) made standards for fortification in the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018, for five staples — wheat, rice, milk, oil and salt.
  • The standards are given for wheat and rice fortification with iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12, the deficiency of which cause anaemia. Besides, other B vitamins are also added.
  • Standards are provided for oil and milk fortification with vitamin A and vitamin D, the deficiency of which cause night blindness and rickets respectively; and salt fortification with iron along with iodine to prevent goitre.
  • The food companies who wish to add micronutrients to these staples sold in the packages will also have to follow the standards set by FSSAI. If the product is fortified according to the standards, the package will carry an F+ label.
  • The Union Ministries of Women and Child Development, Human Resource Development and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution have mandated the distribution of fortified wheat flour, rice, oil and double fortified salt in their schemes — Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) and Public Distribution System (PDS) respectively.


Some of the important features of Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018 are as follows: It prescribes the standards of addition of micronutrients for the purpose of food fortification. The manufacturers of the fortified food are required to provide a quality assurance undertaking. Packaging and labelling of the fortified food must state the food fortificant added, logo and the tagline “Sampoorna Poshan Swasth Jeevan“. It should be in compliance to the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)


The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards , 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments. FSSAI has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. Highlights of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 Various central Acts like Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, Fruit Products Order, 1955, Meat Food Products Order,1973, Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947, Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order 1988, Solvent Extracted Oil, De- Oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967, Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992 etc have been repealed after commencement of FSS Act, 2006. The Act aims to establish a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards, by moving from multi- level, multi- departmental control to a single line of command. The Act thus establishes an independent statutory Authority – the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India with head office at Delhi. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the State Food Safety Authorities enforce various provisions of the Act. Establishment of the Authority Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the Administrative Ministry for the implementation of FSSAI. The Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are appointed by Government of India. The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
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