Keeping the objective of promoting food fortification in India in mind, FSSAI has established the Food Fortification Resource Centre. In October 2016, the FSSAI implemented the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, which carries the guidelines related to food fortification in India for staples such as rice, milk, salt, and wheat flour. Besides this, India’s food regulator has introduced +logo to recognize fortified foods.
Recent studies have suggested that one-quarter of India’s population is living below the line of poverty. Lack of proper nutrition and deficiencies of the nutrient is the major let down factor in the fortune of India. The government has been continuously making sincere efforts to eradicate the malnutrition problem from the veins of India. However, the problem of malnutrition is not only limited to people below the poverty line, but it has also affected those people who are living in urban societies.
In the Union Budget 2019-20, the government has put its eyes on the food fortification issues. In this budget, the government’s attention on the fortification of food is clearly visible. Despite making headway in the areas of food security and food production capacity, India is suffering due to nutritional deficiencies. Various schemes related to poverty reduction and food safety came into the picture, but many cases of under-nutrition in our nation are raising questions.
As per the FSSAI License guidelines, all the companies must follow the standard set by FSSAI regarding the manufacturing of fortified food products.
Food Fortification in India – The Need of the Hour
Food Fortification in India has become the need of the hour due to the fact that most of the economically disadvantaged people don’t have access to food high in terms of nutritional value and food fit for consumption.
- Deficiency of micronutrients is posing serious health threats to developing countries like India.
- As per the reports of the National Family Health Survey-
- 4% of children between the age group of 0.5-6 yrs are anaemic.
- 7% of children below the age of 5 are below the desirable weight.
- 1% of women belonging to the age group of reproductive women are anaemic.
- Most of the people living in India have a high deficiency of essential nutrients like Iron, Vitamin A, Folic Acid, and Iodine.
- Possibilities are high that such people will be suffering from anaemia, Night blindness, and other birth-related defects.
- In order to upgrade the health as well as the production of the country, accessibility to safe, healthy, and nutritious food is essential.
- Many unfortunate cases come in our country when during the food processing stages, micronutrients disappear.
Read our article:FSSAI Rules and Regulations for Food Sector
Benefits of Food Fortification in India
- Though the initial investment is high due to the blend of technology and nutrients premix, the overall cost involved in the food fortification process is very less. As per the Copenhagen Consensus estimates, by spending one Rupee on fortification, you would reap the benefit of around 9 Rupees to the economy.
- The inclusion of micronutrients into the staple foods would give a lift to the health of a considerable section of the population in a few days.
- It is a risk-free method that enhances the nutrients intake habits of people.
- Even after the fortification of food, the natural features of food will remain the same. In other words, the taste and appearance of food won’t change at all.
- Fortified food production on a grand scale will sort out the nutritional problems of a nation by meeting the requirements of the poor as well as healthy.
- The government has taken the required measures that won’t let affect the aroma and taste of food to maintain the smile on customers faces.
Government Measures concerning Food Fortification in India
- Under the National Nutrition Mission, there was an announcement made by the government that 118 districts of India would get fortified rations, with an endeavor to win the battle against widespread malnutrition.
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, food regulatory authorities are spreading the message within people to consume more fortified food.
- Under one of the schemes based on rice fortification and its wide distribution under the Public Distribution System in the year ranging 2019-20, Rs 42.65 has been budgeted.
- FSSAI has developed standards for the Food Safety and Standards Regulation, 2018 for five vital staples-
- The Union Ministries of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Human Resource Development, Women and Child Development have directed the distribution of fortified rice, wheat flour and oil as well as double fortified salts.
- Implementation of rice fortification scheme in 15 districts of 15 states under PDS on a pilot basis.
- Standards are given for the salt fortification with iodine and iron to counter goiter.
- The government has targeted-
- 11.8 Crore children- MDM
- 81.34 Crores- PDS
- 10.3 Crores women, adolescents, and children- ICDS
Those companies that are planning to add micronutrients to the essential staples must thorough themselves with the FSSAI standards.
How to proceed further with the Plan of Large Scale Food Fortification in India?
- Getting the evidence and insightful information that these micronutrients are less in number and with the increase in their number, those people will get the benefit who need it without creating problems for those who have no requirement of it.
- These schemes may harm biodiversity as well as agricultural practices.
- The government should make a proper assessment of the consequence of this move on small players.
- The government should provide assistance to small players in the hours of need due to technical and financial weaknesses to make them compete with the more prominent players.
In a country like India, Malnutrition should get plucked from the roots and recover the nutrient deficiency that the nation has faced. Food fortification is a process of addition of micronutrients into food to bring improvement in their nutritional content. Food fortification in India is a way to fight hidden hunger by using cost-effective as well as sustainable ideas. FSSAI has formulated the Fortification of Foods Regulations, 2016, for food fortification in India.
Read our article:How to Obtain an FSSAI License in India: Full Guide