It is time for the industry to come forward and promote fortification with +F brand products and spread consumer awareness
Inoshi Sharma, Director, FSSAI said that an overview of the food safety is need of the hour and FSSAI is soon coming up with regulations, whereby cereals, bakery products, etc can also be fortified.
Speaking at a webinar on Tackling the Impact of COVID-19 on Micronutrient Deficiencies through Food Fortification, organized by FICCI in collaboration with World Food Programme (WFP) and DSM India, Sharma said, “’As of now, five staples-salt, oil, milk, flour and rice are being fortified. The FSSAI in the process of passing a regulation for processed foods and the industry would be happy to know that very soon we would be coming up with regulations, whereby cereals, bakery products, buns, breads, biscuits, pasta, noodles, etc., commodities consumed by the people for which wheat or rice is used as a base for creating, can also be fortified. The need for research is very important and we need to figure out how we can adopt the process of fortification effectively.”
It is time for the industry to come forward and promote fortification with +F brand products and spread consumer awareness. “The only condition we have put for processed food is that they should not be HFSS- high in fat, salt and sugar. If they do not fall in this category, all other processed food can be fortified,” Sharma added.
Sharma said that while on one hand it is important that the government push forward the programme through PDS and other measures, it is also important that the industry adopts these fortification programmes and adds fortificants so that awareness for health benefits of fortified products is created among people.
“The regulations are very simple,” she said. “The amount of fortification, which is added, is restricted to 30-50 per cent of the RDA. So, if there is a concern that by consuming a lot of fortified products, it might lead to toxicity levels, we want to assure that all that has been taken care of. These regulations are passed only after a scientific pattern has gone through them,” added Sharma.
While emphasizing the need for fortification from a policy perspective, Sharma said that a proposal for mandatory fortification of oil and milk, encouraging processed food manufactures to undertake fortification, training of staff on food fortification, retail expansion for availability of fortified staples and checking and sampling of premix quality were some of the crucial key pointers and way forward. “We are making sure that slowly the process of fortification becomes mandatory,” she further added.
Shariqua Yunus, Nutrition Specialist, World Food Programme, said, “Food fortification is an intervention that hasn’t been tried consistently or at scale apart from a few pilot efforts in the past few years.” Yunus also added that a National Level policy now needs to be translated into state level actions and there is a need for an assured market for the private sector. “There is an overarching need to have laboratories accredited to take micronutrient analysis of fortified food,” she said.