From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Fortification of food
Mains level : Read the attached story
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved supply of fortified rice in all States and Union Territories (UTs) by 2024 in a phased manner.
What is the news?
- Fortified Rice will be supplied throughout the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under the:
- National Food Security Act (NFSA)
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
- Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman-PM POSHAN [erstwhile Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDM)] and
- Other Welfare Schemes (OWS)
Phases of implementation
The following three phases are envisaged for full implementation of the initiative:
- Phase-I: Covering ICDS and PM POSHAN in India all over by March, 2022 which is under implementation.
- Phase-II: Phase I above plus TPDS and OWS in all Aspirational and High Burden Districts on stunting (total 291 districts) by March 2023.
- Phase-III: Phase II above plus covering the remaining districts of the country by March 2024.
What is Fortification?
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has explicitly defined fortification.
- It involves deliberate increasing of the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of food and to provide public health benefit with minimal risk to health.
Types of food fortification
Food fortification can also be categorized according to the stage of addition:
- Commercial and industrial fortification (wheat flour, cornmeal, cooking oils)
- Biofortification (breeding crops to increase their nutritional value, which can include both conventional selective breeding, and genetic engineering)
- Home fortification (example: vitamin D drops)
How is fortification done for rice?
- Various technologies are available to add micronutrients to regular rice, such as coating, dusting, and ‘extrusion’.
- The last mentioned involves the production of fortified rice kernels (FRKs) from a mixture using an ‘extruder’ machine.
- It is considered to be the best technology for India.
- The fortified rice kernels are blended with regular rice to produce fortified rice.
How does the extrusion technology to produce FRK work?
- Dry rice flour is mixed with a premix of micronutrients, and water is added to this mixture.
- The mixture is passed through a twin-screw extruder with heating zones, which produces kernels similar in shape and size to rice.
- These kernels are dried, cooled, and packaged for use. FRK has a shelf life of at least 12 months.
- As per guidelines issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the shape and size of the fortified rice kernel should “resemble the normal milled rice as closely as possible”.
- According to the guidelines, the length and breadth of the grain should be 5 mm and 2.2 mm respectively.
But why does rice have to be fortified in the first place?
- India has very high levels of malnutrition among women and children.
- According to the Food Ministry, every second woman in the country is anaemic and every third child is stunted.
- Fortification of food is considered to be one of the most suitable methods to combat malnutrition.
- Rice is one of India’s staple foods, consumed by about two-thirds of the population. Per capita rice consumption in India is 6.8 kg per month.
- Therefore, fortifying rice with micronutrients is an option to supplement the diet of the poor.
What are the standards for fortification?
- Under the Ministry’s guidelines, 10 g of FRK must be blended with 1 kg of regular rice.
- According to FSSAI norms, 1 kg of fortified rice will contain the following: iron (28 mg-42.5 mg), folic acid (75-125 microgram), and vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 microgram).
- Rice may also be fortified with zinc (10 mg-15 mg), vitamin A (500-750 microgram RE), vitamin B-1 (1 mg-1.5 mg), vitamin B-2 (1.25 mg-1.75 mg), vitamin B-3 (12.5 mg-20 mg) and vitamin B-6 (1.5 mg-2.5 mg) per kg.
Does fortified rice have to be cooked differently?
- The cooking of fortified rice does not require any special procedure.
- The rice needs to be cleaned and washed in the normal way before cooking.
- After cooking, fortified rice retains the same physical properties and micronutrient levels as it had before cooking.
What is India’s capacity for fortification?
- At the time of the PM’s announcement last year, nearly 2,700 rice mills had installed blending units for the production of fortified rice.
- India’s blending capacity now stands at 13.67 lakh tonnes in 14 key states, according to figures provided by the Ministry.
- FRK production had increased rapidly from 7,250 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes within 2 years.
How can a beneficiary distinguish between fortified rice and regular rice?
- Fortified rice will be packed in jute bags with the logo (‘+F’) and the line “Fortified with Iron, Folic Acid, and Vitamin B12”.
- Health: Fortified staple foods will contain natural or near-natural levels of micro-nutrients, which may not necessarily be the case with supplements.
- Taste: It provides nutrition without any change in the characteristics of food or the course of our meals.
- Nutrition: If consumed on a regular and frequent basis, fortified foods will maintain body stores of nutrients more efficiently and more effectively than will intermittently supplement.
- Economy: The overall costs of fortification are extremely low; the price increase is approximately 1 to 2 percent of the total food value.
- Society: It upholds everyone’s right to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger
Issues with fortified food
- Against nature: Fortification and enrichment upset nature’s packaging. Our body does not absorb individual nutrients added to processed foods as efficiently compared to nutrients naturally occurring.
- Bioavailability: Supplements added to foods are less bioavailable. Bioavailability refers to the proportion of a nutrient your body is able to absorb and use.
- Immunity issues: They lack immune-boosting substances.
- Over-nutrition: Fortified foods and supplements can pose specific risks for people who are taking prescription medications, including decreased absorption of other micro-nutrients, treatment failure, and increased mortality risk.
Back2Basics: Public Distribution System (PDS)
- The PDS is an Indian food Security System established under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution.
- PDS evolved as a system of management of scarcity through the distribution of food grains at affordable prices.
- PDS is operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and State Governments.
- The Central Government, through the Food Corporation of India (FCI), has assumed the responsibility for procurement, storage, transportation, and bulk allocation of food grains to the State Governments.
- The operational responsibilities including allocation within the State, identification of eligible families, issue of Ration Cards and supervision of the functioning of FPSs etc., rest with the State Governments.
- Under the PDS, presently the commodities namely wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene are being allocated to the States/UTs for distribution.
- Some states/UTs also distribute additional items of mass consumption through PDS outlets such as pulses, edible oils, iodized salt, spices, etc.
Mid-Day Meal Scheme
- The Midday Meal Scheme is a school meal program in India designed to better the nutritional standing of school-age children nationwide.
- It is a wholesome freshly-cooked lunch served to children in government and government-aided schools in India.
- It supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government-aided, local body, and alternate innovative education centers, Madarsa and Maqtabs.
- The program has undergone many changes since its launch in 1995.
- The Midday Meal Scheme is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013.
The scheme aims to:
- avoid classroom hunger
- increase school enrolment
- increase school attendance
- improve socialization among castes
- address malnutrition
- empower women through employment