WHY IN THE NEWS?
Recently the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA Kisan Swaraj) has raised concerns along with several individuals and organizations and has written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) requesting it to scrap plans of the Indian Government’s to make compulsory the Artificial Food Fortification of certain food items adding the long term costs of fortification will be irreversible.
WHAT IS FOOD FORTIFICATION?
Introduced in the 1930s and 1940s Food Fortification refers to the addition of adding vitamins and minerals during processing to increase the nutritional value of commonly consumed foods. Addresses micro-nutrient deficiencies.
It is committing to the widening of fortification (FSSAI, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) of staples food such as rice, edible oil, salt, etc. with vital minerals and vitamins.
For Fortifying staples specifically 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 FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) in 2016, operationalized the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016 to reduce the high burden of micronutrients malnutrition in India.
To combat micronutrient deficiencies Food Fortification is an important nutrition intervention. It fights to reduce micronutrient deficiency incidence in many low‐and middle‐income regions.
TYPES OF FOOD FORTIFICATION
1.Commercial and Industrial Fortification
It refers to adding minerals and micronutrients to industrially processed and extensively consumed edible commodities.
Bio Fortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth with the help of conventional breeding and modern biotechnology. Example Iron fortification of rice, potato, etc.
Home fortification is an invention aimed at upgrading the diet quality of nutritionally exposed groups, such as young children.
Vegetables, Hot cereals, potatoes, soups, noodles, and puréed foods, sandwiches, and muffins are examples.
WHY DO WE NEED IT?
We need it because According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 40 percent of pregnant women and 42 percent of children less than 5 years of age are anemic worldwide.
Micronutrient deficiencies could lead to reduced work productivity, educational effects, and increased risk from other diseases and a contributor to causing a detectable and vicious health environment.
67 percent of the population consumes rice, Food Fortification can be used to compensate for nutrient deficiency and micronutrient delivery to curb serious hunger.
The World Health Organisation and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization both have adopted four strategies for improving dietary intake
4.Disease Control Measures
According to the National Family Health Survey,(NFHS-4), 53.1 percent of women in the reproductive age group are anemic and 35.7% of children under 5 are underweight.
1.Costs of Food Fortification are low and ensure large benefits.
2.Food Fortification helps to prevent iron deficiency anaemia through the fortification of food in developing nations.
3.In the United States, Food Fortification has contributed remarkably to the virtual elimination of rickets, goiter, beriberi, and pellagra.
4.Double fortified food with iron and iodine contributes to growth and development.
5.Fortified food with vitamin A and vitamin D is an important component for better eyesight and immunity.
Apart from the above advantages, there are growing concerns that fortifying and enriching foods may be harmful to us. Let’s have a look at the negative side of the food fortification.
1.Fortified Foods is not an alternative for a good quality diet nutrition.
2.Companies often add vitamins at dangerous levels. Enormous fortified foods, in severe cases, can result in toxicity excess and unrepairable organ destruction.
3.Fortified foods and supplements may pose certain risks for people who are carrying prescription medications.
4.Restricted access due to low purchasing ability.
THE GOVERNMENT’S EFFORTS TO FIGHT MALNUTRITION
The government of India has been implementing several programs on a priority basis to counter the malnutrition problem in India.
The flagship program was launched in 2018 to improve nutritional outcomes for pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children.
2.INTEGRATED CHILD DEVELOPMENT SERVICES (ICDS) SCHEME
The Flagship Programme of the Government of India was launched in October 1975, to improve nutritional health status in the age group of 0-6 years and for proper psychological, physical, and social development of the child.
The Government of India has been distributing fortified rice since April through the mid-day meal scheme. While keeping an eye on the production level is required through quality security, compliances also have to be carried out regularly at numerous levels in the dispersion chain from creation to admission to wholesale, retail, and household levels. Though food fortification is needed the quality of the diet should be improved instead of food fortification.