ASSOCHAM draws focus to combat malnutrition with food fortification

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Improving the nutritional status of the country in association with Hexagon Nutrition

Apex industry body ASSOCHAM hosted a Webinar on 2 March on Food Fortification – A sustainable solution to fight Hidden Hunger in a Globalised World to focus on the importance of Food Fortification in fighting malnutrition and improving the nutritional status of the country in association with Hexagon Nutrition.

Sharing his views on the subject and presenting the opening remarks, Vivek Chandra, CEO, LT Foods & Co-chair, National Food Processing council, ASSOCHAM stated that rapid food environment changes are influencing the consumers’ dietary practices and can lead to deterioration in both individual, and country-level, nutritional and health status. He spoke briefly on the history of food fortification and that dates back to the 1950’s. He mentioned that food fortification is not only a cost-effective, scientifically proven, and globally recognized complementary approach, but it also helps to easily reach wider, vulnerable populations through existing food delivery systems. He brought up that the Government is prioritizing rice fortification and launched a pilot project in Rajasthan in 2019 to address malnutrition and anemia and promote nutrition security.

Vikram Kelkar, Group MD, Hexagon Nutrition presented the Nutraceutical Industry Perspective – Challenges & Opportunities in the Nutraceutical Industry during and post-pandemic. He gave a brief about the nutraceuticals and nutraceutical industry and mentioned that Nutraceuticals is a broad term referred to food or part(s) of food that provide incremental health benefits.

Tapan Kumar Das, Addl. Secretary and Director (Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Affairs), Govt. of Tripur pointed out that Tripura is a grain deficit state and is major dependent on the FCI for food grain supply to state. Since there is no major milling facility available, the scope of in-state fortification is very less.

Devansh Yadav, Deputy Commissioner (Food and Civil Supplies) – Changlang District, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh put forth a detailed report of the study on the Effects Of Intermittent Iron Folic Acid On Malnutrition Among Anganwadi Children conducted under ICDS. He pointed out that the sample size which was given Iron Folic acid in their diet showed signs of improved height, weight and MUAC compared to the control group who were not given the IFA in their diet. 

Sachin Jaiswal, Joint Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Nagaland also concurred with Tapan that Nagaland, similar to Tripura, is a FCI depended state for the supply of their food grains. 

Inoshi Sharma, Director, FFRC-FSSAI stated a few facts regarding the situation in India including Unsafe food, Unhealthy diets, and Environmental degradation. She stated that 58.4% of the children under 5 are anaemic in India and that 53.1% women of reproductive age are anaemic. She presented EAT Right India Initiative as a solution as a collective effort of all stakeholders, led by FSSAI, to transform the food ecosystem of the country to ensure safe, healthy and sustainable food for everyone through a judicious mix of regulatory, supply and demand side initiatives. 

Further to this session we had a panel discussion which was moderated by Ms. Deepti Gulati, Head of Programs, GAIN. Other panelist for the discussion includes Mr. Vivek Arora, Senior Advisor, TATA Trusts, Ms. Shariqua Yunus, Head of Unit & Programs Officer (Health and Nutrition), United Nations World Food Programs, Mr. Durga Prasad, Quality Head, Pristine Kalinga and we also had a special presentation by Ms. Megha Mandke, Senior Executive- Human Nutrition, Hexagon Nutrition on the Role of Micronutrient to Combat Hidden Hunger through Food Fortification.

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