Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[op-ed snap] Powering up food: fortification is good but needs regulation

Context:

  1. A diversified diet meets all nutritional requirements is difficult to provide
  2. Fortification of food is relied upon by many countries to prevent malnutrition

World Health Organisation reports:

  1. WHO estimates that deficiency of key micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A and iodine together affects a third
    of the world’s population
  2. In general, insufficient consumption of vitamins and minerals remains problematic

India’s nutrition challenge:

  1. Viewed against the nutrition challenge India faces, processed foods with standards-based fortification can help advance overall health goals, starting with maternal health
  2. It is imperative to make iron-fortified food widely available, since iron deficiency contributes to 20% of maternal deaths and is associated with nearly half of all maternal deaths
  3. The shadow of malnutrition extends to the children that women with anaemia give birth to
  4. They often have low birth weight, are pre-term, and suffer from poor development and lower cognitive
    abilities
  5. Low intake of vitamins, zinc and folate also causes a variety of health issues, particularly when growing
    children are deprived

Fortification:

  1. It is a low-cost solutionThe benefit is maximised when there is focus on adequate intake of oils and fats
  2. Oils and fats are necessary for the absorption of micronutrients and something poorer households often
    miss in their diet

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India:

  1. The efficacy of the fortification standards introduced by the FSSAI will depend on enforcement
  2. It is important to ensure that all sections of producers meet the norms, since the FSSAI plans to get local flour mills to add premixed nutrients
  3. Making affordable, good quality fortified foods widely available is the key

Way ahead:

  1. Only standardised processes can provide micronutrients to women, and in turn to breastfed children in the first six months after birth
  2. A well-functioning PDS is the best channel to reach precisely those sections that need fortified food the most
  3. In the case of children, recent studies show that adding zinc to food during the six months to 12 years growth period reduced the risk of death from infectious diseases and all causes put together
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