From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : BIofortification
- A centrally-sponsored pilot scheme on fortification of rice and its dispersal through PDS has been approved by the government.
About the Scheme
- The Department of Food and Public Distribution has approved the “Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on fortification of rice and its distribution through Public Distribution System.”
- Financial assistance of up to 90 per cent in case of North-Eastern, Hilly and Island States and up to 75 per cent in case of rest of the States has been extended.
- Further, the Govt. has also advised all states and UTs especially those states and UTs that are distributing wheat flour through PDS to distribute fortified wheat flour through PDS.
How it is finalized?
- The Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indian population is finalized by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN-ICMR) based on the recommendations of the Expert Group.
- It is based on individual variability and nutrient bio-availability from the habitual diet.
- Fortification is a complementary strategy to fight malnutrition.
- Under this, there is addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, vitamins A & D to staple foods such as rice, wheat, oil, milk and salt are done to improve their nutritional content.
- This is done to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.
- Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology.
- It differs from conventional fortification in that Biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops.
How is Rice fortified?
- Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder to the rice that adheres to the grains or spraying of the surface of ordinary rice grains with a vitamin and mineral mix to form a protective coating.
- Rice can also be extruded and shaped into partially precooked grain-like structures resembling rice grains, which can then be blended with natural polished rice.
- Rice kernels can be fortified with several micronutrients, such as iron, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc.
- FSSAI has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’.
- These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods.
- The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory.
- WHO recommends fortification of rice with iron, vitamin A and folic acid as a public health strategy to improve the iron status of population wherever rice is a staple food.
About Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC)
- The FFRC is established under India’s government department that regulates food ie FSSAI in collaboration with TATA Trusts.
- The FFRC works dedicatedly to provide essential support to stakeholders like relevant government ministries, food businesses, development partners etc., promoting and supporting food fortification efforts across India.