Fortification of Rice

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    In News

    • The Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, informed that the Government approved the Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice & its Distribution under Public Distribution System” for a period of 3 years beginning in 2019-20 with a total outlay of Rs. 174.64 Cr. 

    About

    • Malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients in poor women and poor children pose major obstacles in their development.
    • In view of this, the government has decided to fortify the rice given to the poor under its various schemes (Mid-Day Meal) by the year 2024
    • The Prime Minister’s announcement of universalisation of rice fortification by 2024, will cover about 100 crore target population, including about 20 crore women of reproductive age.
    • Under the Scheme, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been asked to come up with a comprehensive plan for procurement and distribution of fortified rice in all the Districts of the country under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) &?Mid-Day?Meal (MDM) Scheme from 2021-2022.
      • The mid-day meal scheme is now known as PM POSHAN.

    What is Food Fortification?

    • According to WHO, the practice of adding vitamins and minerals to commonly consumed foods during processing improves their nutritional value.
    • It allows food manufacturers to voluntarily fortify foods available in the marketplace.
    • Rice Fortification:
      • It is a process of adding micronutrients like iron, folic acid and vitamin B12, which is an effective, preventive and cost-efficient complementary strategy to address the nutrition problem within a short period.

    Benefits/ Advantages of Fortification

    • Eliminates malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies.
      • India has slipped to the 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th.
    • Provides extra nutrition at affordable costs.
    • The inherent characteristics of the food remain the same even after fortification. This means that the original taste, texture, and appearance are unchanged.
    • Wide-scale production of fortified foods can help improve the overall nutritional problem of a country, by catering to both the poor and the wealthy.
    • It does not require any changes in the food habits and patterns of people.
    • The Copenhagen Consensus estimates that every 1 Rupee spent on fortification results in 9 Rupees in benefits to the economy.

    Concerns

    • Only a handful of nutrients are added in the process of fortification. 
    • Fortified food products fail to reach the poorest segments of society (Low Purchasing Power), who are among the worst section affected with nutritional deficiencies. 
    • Fortified foods could lead to a nutritional overdose.
    • Even though fortified foods aid in providing certain nutrients, in the long run, you will need a substantial diet, which limits the potential of such foods in lower segments of society.

    Government Steps

    • In 2018, FSSAI had notified standards of fortification for five staple product categories — milk, edible oil, rice, flour and salt (‘F+’ logo to be displayed on labels).
    • In January 2021, the FSSAI had issued a draft regulation for mandatory fortification of edible oil and milk with Vitamin A and D. 
    • Milk Fortification Project: By the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in collaboration with the World Bank.

    Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

    • Established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
    • An autonomous body under the Ministry of Health.
    • Aim: Matters related to Food Safety & Standards.

    Source: PIB