Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK)

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    In News

    • Recently, the Central Government issued “uniform” parameters for fortified rice kernels (FRK) for grade ‘A’ and common rice.

    About

    • The specifications have been issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
    • The fortified rice is to be distributed under various government schemes, including the public distribution system (PDS) and midday meals in schools, by 2024.

    Need for Rice Fortification

    • India still has high levels of malnutrition among women and children
    • According to the Food Ministry, every second woman in the country is anaemic and every third child is stunted. 
    • India ranks 94 out of 107 countries and is in the ‘serious hunger’ category on the Global Hunger Index (GHI).

    What is Food Fortification?

    • Food fortification is defined as the practice of adding vitamins and minerals to commonly consumed foods during processing to increase their nutritional value.
    • It is a proven, safe and cost-effective strategy for improving diets and for the prevention and control of micronutrient deficiencies.
    • In 2018, FSSAI had notified standards of fortification for five staple product categories — milk, edible oil, rice, flour and salt.
      • It has also launched the ‘F+’ logo to be displayed on labels of fortified food products for easy identification by consumers.
    • Fortified Rice:
    • It involves grinding broken rice into powder, mixing it with nutrients, and then shaping it into rice-like kernels using an extrusion process. 
    • These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio and distributed for consumption. 
    • Enhancers: 
      • Addition of basic material like ferric pyrophosphate and enhancing compounds like citric acid and trisodium citrate mixtures to increase iron absorption in a staple food is the most common form of fortification. 

    (Image Courtesy: TOI)

    Advantages of Food Fortification

    • Eliminate malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies.
    • Provides extra nutrition at affordable costs.
    • Safe: Fortification is a safe method of improving nutrition among people. The addition of micronutrients to food does not pose a health risk to people.
    • Socio-culturally acceptable way: It does not require any changes in the food habits and patterns of people. It is a socio-culturally acceptable way to deliver nutrients to people.
      • It can be implemented quickly as well as show results in improvement of health in a relatively short period of time.
    • Cost-effective: Food fortification is a cost-effective strategy to improve the nutrition status of populations and it is associated with high economic benefits.
      • It requires an initial investment to purchase both the equipment and the vitamin and mineral premix, but overall costs of fortification are extremely low.

    Way Forward

    • The State Governments should ensure that wide publicity of the Uniform Specifications is made among the farmers to ensure that they get the due price for their produce and any rejection of the stocks is completely avoided.
    • All states and Union Territories, as well as the Food Corporation of India, should carry out the procurement during KMS 2020-21 in accordance with the uniform specifications.
    • Existing rice mills need to be upgraded to fortification facilities. According to the Ministry, an investment of around Rs15-20 lakh would be required to upgrade a rice mill of the operating capacity of 4-5 tonnes/hour.

    Source: IE