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FSSAI drafts guidelines for fortification of food, including rice, milk
Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) drafted guidelines for the fortification of food that includes rice, wheat flour, milk, salt and edible oil. CalledFood Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016, these regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods.

They also provide for a specific role of FSSAI in the promotion for food fortification and making fortification mandatory.

Calling it a timely intervention,Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, called on the industry to take this effort forward by means of producing and manufacturing affordable fortified foods.

“This would help in overcoming the problem of malnutrition in the country. There have been efforts in the past, but this is a comprehensive plan to fight the challenge of malnutrition in the country. We have drafted the regulations, which will be notified soon,” he stated at a conference on fortification in New Delhi.  

Ashish Bahuguna, chairman FSSAI, stated that it was a galvanising effort that would make the stakeholders work in a coordinated manner to ensure nutritional food to all.

“This effort is significant in terms of its impact on society. Alack in the nutritional diet has serious ramifications on the society’s growth and economy of the country,” he said.  

Bahuguna added, “It’s a kind of joint venture between various departments and ministries (nine in number) and private entities like the Tata Trust, non-government organisations (NGOs) and international organisations.”

In the draft guidelines, the objective said that it was being done to prevent the risk of deficiency of nutrients in the population and meeting the requirements of recommended intake of essential nutrients.  

Manufacturers have to comply with the standards on micronutrient content in fortified food as prescribed by FSSAI. Besides, food business operators have to maintain quality assurance and compliance with the general rules and regulations along with adherence with the packaging and labelling requirement. There is a specific logo for fortified food and the packages should contain that.  

For salt fortification, the limits are 30 parts per million (ppm)in case of iodine on dry weight basis and 850-1,100ppm in case of iron.For edible oil, vitamin A should be 25 IU per gram of oil and vitamin D should be 4.5 IU per gram of oil.For milk per litre, the levels of Vitamin A should be 770 IU and Vitamin D 550 IU.

For atta per kg, iron should be at 20mg,folic acid at 1,300microgram and Vitamin B12 at 10 microgram. Besides, atta can contain other nutrients like zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and niacin nicotinamide.  

For rice per kg, the level for fortification include iron at 20mg, folic acid at 1,300microgram and Vitamin B12 at 10microgram. Besides, rice can also have zinc, VitaminB1, B2 and B6 amongst other nutritents.  

“The control of micronutrient deficiencies is an essential part of the overarching effort of the government to fight hunger and malnutrition in the country,” saidAnupriya Patel, minister of state for health and family welfare at the inauguration of the National Summit on Fortification of Food to address interventions in combating micronutrient malnutrition in the country.

She stated that food fortification was a proven and effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society, including the poor and underprivileged as well as the vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children.  

“Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance. It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food. It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time. It is safe and cost-effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms,” Patel said.

Emphasising the need for food fortification, she said that food fortification reinforced and supported existing nutrition improvement programmes and was part of a broader, integrated approach to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, thereby complementing other approaches to improve health and nutrition.

Patel also released the standards on fortification of foods and launched the food fortification logo at the event.

Speaking on the occasion,Soumya Swaminathan, director general, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), said that nutrition was a major determinant of health. Sheadded that macro- and micro-nutrient deficiency would lead to risk factors that may cause various diseases like TB, anaemia, etc.

She informed that ICMR planned to conduct health and nutrition a survey to get first-hand insights about the nutritional values of the food consumed by the people of the country. She laid stress on the need to raise awareness and educate people about a balanced diet.

FSSAI co-hosted the two-day summit in partnership with related Central ministries/departments and development partners. The summit brought together experts from the nutrition and development communities, as well as representatives from state governments, academics, technical supporters and donors to beneficiaries past and present to discuss and debate – presenting in-depth analysis and impact assessments, important and case study examples of food fortification programmes as well as learnings and challenges to build on, so effective food fortification efforts can carry on delivering in the future.

There were a number of themes, including the roles of industry, the government, academia and civil society; improving compliance and measurement; cost-benefit analysis; modelling potential for impact and the required investments.

Also present at the function were members of the food sector fraternity, including the science community, industry - corporates as well as small and medium food businesses represented by their associations, consumer and citizen organisations, international organisations and development partners, experts and government officials from Central ministries and states and other key stakeholders.
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