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The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recently released a benchmarks to fortify the nutritional quality of food items used in social programmes such as ICDS, PDS and midday meals such as rice, wheat flour, milk, edible oil and salt.
In order to avoid problems like stunting, overweight and anaemia which are the major causes of maternal and child deaths, food fortification is a necessary step. It helps combat malnutrition through stable food items. The FSSAI standards have detailed specific measurements for fortification. Any manufacturer that fortifies food should ensure that the level of micronutrients does not fall below the minimum specified by the central food regulator. According to the standards, it is now mandatory for the manufacturers to follow certain fortification procedures. Fortified food items would also have to carry a logo approved by the FSSAI and mention the nutrient content on their pack.
According to the standards, fortified atta (flour) should contain added iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12. Apart from this, it may also be fortified with zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin B6.
A separate set of rules dictates how ’maida’ should be fortified -with iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12. Likewise, fortified rice should contain added iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12. The level of fortification has been specified as well.
The standards by FSSAI would ensure that essential nutrients are appropriately added to foods for preventing or reducing the risk of, or correcting, a demonstrated deficiency of one or more essential nutrients in the population or a specific population group.
The regulator has also asked the manufacturers and packers of fortified food to give an undertaking on quality assurance, and submit evidence on steps taken in regard to fortification.
All fortified food, whether voluntarily fortified or mandatorily, should be manufactured, packed, labelled, handled, distributed and sold, whether for profit or under a government-funded programme, only in compliance with the standards specified under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and the regulations made thereunder.