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FSSAI constitutes scientific panel on food fortification and nutrition
Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has constituted a scientific panel on food fortification and nutrition.

The apex regulator stated, “The panel will identify critical nutritional gaps in the Indian diet in general as well as specific target groups based on diet surveys and credible scientific evidence, define strategies to address nutritional needs of the general population and vulnerable groups, and review the standards for all suitable food fortifying vehicles, in addition to the healthy dietary intake of fat, sugar and salt.”

“It will also address regulatory and related technological issues, review proposals from industry using modern risk assessment methods, and prescribe standard sampling and test methods for effective monitoring, surveillance and enforcement of the relevant regulations,” it added.

The scientific panel has eleven distinguished experts and scientists and includes 10 members from various research institutions. Apart from these, members from scientific panels dealing with fortification of food such as wheat flour, refined flour, rice, milk, edible oil and salt will also be a part of this panel.

In addition, the ministries of women and child development and health and family welfare,the department of biotechnologyand the Indian Council of Medical Research will also be working with the panel.

It is pertinent to mention here that FSSAI had earlier brought out draft regulations for fortified food, namely Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Food) Regulations, 2016.

These were operationalised at the National Summit on Food Fortification held inOctober2016. Based on the comments received on the draft regulations, the panel will finalise the regulations.

Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs said, “Since food fortification has a huge opportunity to adding vital nutrients to the daily diets of the masses.”

He stated, “Many times, people show a deficiency of particular nutrients. This might be due to regional obstacles or due to the simple absence of a particular food product in the day-to-day diet.”

“The salt disputation programme was one of the first food fortification programmes that were a tremendous hit, in terms of reducing the rate of goitre. A few state governments, with aid from certain public health program mes, are implementing wheat fortification with iron and colic acid.”

However, experts see some drawbacks as well. Bhadri said, “This law can sway public opinion towards a particular product which might misguide the customers.”

“Hence, products that claim to be fortifiedshould have a valid test report (done by a third-party lab) to prove the same. This will help in their brand equity, more demand for their product and a high value for the consumers,” he added.

Meanwhile, four zonal consultations for states/Union Territories (Its)- covering the northern region in Delhi, the western region in Bhopal, the eastern region in Bhubaneswar and the southern region in Bengaluru - have been convened jointly with the ministry of women and child development, other line ministries/departments and development partners such as the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), World Food program (WFP) and Micronutrient Initiative (MI) with continued engagement with staple food manufacturers. The fifth consultation with the north-eastern region is slated to take place in Guwahati on February 15, 2017.

FSSAI also unveiled a logo for fortified foods which may be used by food businesses. This logo comprises of a square encompassing an F with a ‘+’ sign with a ring around it, which signifies the addition of extra nutrition and vitamins to daily meals to provide good health, protection and an active life.

“Several food businesses have already started using this logo,” the statement said.
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