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NITI Aayog seeks creation of a roadmap by Department of Food and Public Distribution for taking the Rice Fortification Pilot Scheme Pan India.
What is food fortification?
- Fortification is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Vitamins A & D to staple foods such as rice, wheat, oil, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
- These nutrients may or may not have been originally present in the food before processing or may have been lost during processing.
- Micronutrient malnutrition, also known as hidden hunger, is a serious health risk.
- Sometimes due to lack of consumption of a balanced diet, lack of variety in the diet or unavailability of food one does not get adequate micronutrients.
- Hence fortification of food is a safe method of improving nutrition among people as the addition of micronutrients to food does not pose a health risk to people.
- It does not alter the characteristics of the food like the taste, aroma or the texture of the food.
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4)
- 4 percent of children (6-59 months) are anaemic.
- 1 percent of women in the reproductive age group are anaemic.
- 7 percent of children under 5 are underweight.
In August, 2018, FSSAI introduced the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018, to regulate the provisions regarding fortified food.
- It prescribes the standards of addition of micronutrients for the purpose of food fortification. The manufacturers of the fortified food have to provide a quality assurance undertaking.
- Packaging and labelling has to state the food fortificant added, +F logo and the tagline “SampoornaPoshanSwasth Jeevan”.
- It should be in compliance with the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations, 2011.
Fortified salt: In 1950, Indians were among the first countries in Asia to implement mandatory salt iodisation. It is fortified with Iodine.
Fortified wheat: The flour is fortified with iron, vitamin A and folic acid.
Fortified rice: Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12.
Fortified milk: Studies suggest the intake of fortified milk by children not only increased mean serum vitamin D levels but also decreased morbidity rates. It is fortified with Vitamin A, Vitamin D.
Fortified oil: Is fortified with vitamin A and D.
In February, 2019, the government approved a center-sponsored “Rice Fortification and Public Distribution System” pilot scheme. The three-year pilot scheme from the start of 2019-20 has been accepted. The budget allocated is a total amount of Rs 42.65 crore.
During the initial implementation phase, the scheme focuses on 15 districts preferably one District per State.
In their respective Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Mid-day Meal (MDM) and PDS programmes, the Union Ministry for Women and Child Development, has already ordered the distribution of fortified food.