Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Centre announces uniform norms for Fortified Rice

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fortification of food

Mains level : Isuses with fortified food

Days after the Prime Minister’s announcement of a rice fortification plan, the Centre has issued “uniform” parameters for fortified rice kernels (FRK) for grade ‘A’ and common rice.

Plan for fortified rice

  • The fortified rice is to be distributed under various government schemes, including the public distribution system (PDS) and midday meals in schools, by 2024.
  • The specifications for such rice have been issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
  • Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution for the first time issued uniform specifications for Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK).

What are the norms announced?

  • Common Rice have in case of procurement of Fortified Rice Stocks, of which 1% of FRK (w/w) should be blended with normal rice stock.
  • These specifications as per standard practice have been issued in respect of Paddy, Rice and other coarse grains namely Jowar, Bajra, Maize, Ragi.

What is Fortification?

  • FSSAI defines fortification as “deliberately increasing 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”.

What is Fortified Rice?

  • Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder to the rice that adheres to the grains or spraying 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.
  • These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio, and distributed for consumption.

Note: 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 the processing of the crops.

What is the plan announced by the PM?

  • Malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients in poor women and poor children pose major obstacles in their development.
  • In view of this, it has been decided that the government will fortify the rice given to the poor under its various schemes.
  • Be it the rice available at ration shops or the rice provided to children in their mid-day meals, the rice available through every scheme will be fortified by the year 2024.

Why such a move?

  • The announcement is significant as the country has high levels of malnutrition among women and children.
  • According to the Food Ministry, every second woman in the country is anemic and every third child is stunted.
  • India ranks 94 out of 107 countries and is in the ‘serious hunger’ category on the Global Hunger Index (GHI).
  • Fortification of rice is a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets.
  • According to the Food Ministry, seven countries have mandated rice fortification – the USA, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and the Solomon Islands.

Advantages offered

  • 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.

Adhering to FSSAI standard

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) sets standards for food items in the country.

  • According to FSSAI norms, 1 kg fortified rice will contain iron (28 mg-42.5 mg), folic acid (75-125 microgram), and Vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 microgram).
  • In addition, rice may also be fortified with micronutrients, singly or in combination, with zinc(10 mg-15 mg), Vitamin A (500-750 microgram RE), Vitamin B1 (1 mg-1.5 mg), Vitamin B2 (1.25 mg-1.75 mg), Vitamin B3 (12.5 mg-20 mg) and Vitamin B6 (1.5 mg-2.5 mg) per kg.

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Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Front-of-pack labelling of Food Stuffs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Front of Pack Labelling System

Seven years, four committees and two draft regulations later, India still does not have a clear labelling system to warn consumers about harmful levels of fat, salt and sugar in processed foods.

Context

  • According to the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, every pre-packed processed food product sold in the country must be labelled with nutritional information.
  • To ensure that consumers are able to easily see and interpret the nutritional information on food packets, an expert committee was established by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • The committee, set up following an order of the Delhi High Court which was hearing a public interest petition seeking a ban on the sale of junk food in and around schools.

Why label nutritional information?

  • This helps the consumer know everything about the food they buy and make an informed decision about what and how much to eat.
  • Such information is particularly crucial because the packaged food contain ultra-processed foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar and low in fibre and other essential micronutrients.
  • On the one hand, these foods cause malnutrition.
  • On the other hand they are linked strongly with obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases, such as Type-2 diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments and certain cancers, like that of the colon.
  • All these increase the risk of premature death.

Issues with labelling in India

  • Most products provide information in English understanding which can be daunting for a vast number of people in India.

What is FoP labelling?

  • The front-of-pack (FoP) labelling system has long been listed as one of the global best practices to nudge consumers into healthy food choices.
  • It works just the way cigarette packets are labelled with images to discourage consumption.
  • Countries such as Chile, Brazil and Israel have laws to push the packaged food industry to adopt FoP labelling.
  • They have used FoP labelling as a measure to fight obesity and NCDs.

FoP labelling in India

  • The system is yet to be implemented in India even seven years after it was first proposed by FSSAI.
  • The fact is, makers of packaged foods are also a powerful lot, with strong business acumen.
  • While companies in other countries have acceded to the FoP labelling laws, they are unwilling to do so in India — a country experiencing a dietary shift.

Why must we have FoP labels?

  • Countries are working to find ways to nudge consumers into healthy food choices and to contain the growing crisis of obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
  • It is a crisis that increasingly impacts children and also exacerbates novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) symptoms. Front-of-pack (FoP) labelling is definitely an effective tool in this effort.

India definitely needs ‘warning labels’ on front-of-pack, but this must be a symbol-based label with no text and numbers. This is because:

(1) Junk foods have high levels of unhealthy nutrients

  • There is strong evidence that sugar, salt and fat in junk foods are addictive, like nicotine in tobacco.
  • FoP ‘warning’ labels have helped reduce cigarette consumption. It is time we adopted the same for junk foods.

(2) Warning labels are easy to notice and understand

  • They do not confuse consumers with mixed messages.
  • Their distinct shape, colour and size make them noticeable in the otherwise cluttered and colourful packaging.
  • With one label for one nutrient, it becomes easier to know if a product is high in more than one nutrient.

(3) Warning labels are the global best practice now

  • At least seven countries have adopted warning labels in the past five years. These include Chile, Peru, Mexico, Israel and Uruguay.
  • Low- and middle-income mothers have shown profound changes in attitudes towards food purchases as they now understand the nutritional content of packaged foods.
  • Even children can read the labels and take an informed decision. This has also forced food companies to reduce the amount of sugar and sodium in foods and beverages.

(4) They are best suited for India

  • Warning labels are best suited for India as they do not include numbers unlike many other FoP labels.
  • In fact, warning labels that are symbol-based, like that of Israel, can transcend the barriers of literacy and language in India.

(5) FSSAI has experience of successfully implementing symbol-based FoP labels

  • Its “green filled circle in green outlined square” logo to depict vegetarian food has been hugely successful in informing consumers.
  • In recent years, FSSAI also has made similar laws to depict fortification (+F logo) and organic food (a green-coloured tick for Jaivik Bharat logo).

Way forward

  • FoP labels must include information on nutrients that make food injurious to health.
  • This should be distinct from the details on the back-of-pack. FoP labels should aim to inform the consumer, while the back-of-pack label serves the purpose of scientific compliance and enforcement.
  • FoP labels should have information on ‘total sugar’ and not ‘added sugar’. There is no analytical laboratory method to differentiate ‘added sugar’ from total sugar and quantify it.

 

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Why India’s Steady Exports Are At A Record High?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NMP

Mains level : Paper 3- Need for export facilitation

Context

First-quarter growth in India’s gross domestic product (GDP) stands at 20.1 %. This however still means that GDP in the first quarter was 9.2 % below its level two years ago.

Export: Challenges

  • The key driver of growth in the coming quarters will be exports riding on the rapidity of recovery in major markets.
  • There are two serious worries here.
  • 1) Bullwhip element: This could cause an immediate ramp-up in demand for steel and other such upstream elements in global supply chains, with a corresponding damp down in the months to come.
  • In this connection, although the rates under the scheme for remission of duties and taxes on exported products (RODTEP) were finally notified in mid-August.
  • Steel, pharma and chemicals get no rebate at all, although many products using these inputs do.
  • The scheme looks like a subsidy to selected sectors disguised as duty rollback, which can get India into trouble at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • These excluded products need the rebate if they are to survive in a fiercely price-competitive global market in the months to come.
  • 2) Container shortage: A crippling shortage of sea-borne containers has afflicted key large-volume products in the Indian export basket (tea, basmati rice, furniture, garments).
  • Sea-freight subsidy: At a time when container rates have shot up, there is surely a case for a sea-freight subsidy (for a limited period).
  • Even more urgently, the estimated 25,000-30,000 containers locked up at different ports owing to customs disputes need to be unloaded into warehouses and these containers freed.

Can National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) spur growth?

  • Even if the expected 88,000 crore of revenue under NMP is realized during the current year, it is intended to feed only a small part of the infrastructure expenditure budgeted for the year.
  • It is the latter that will have to drive growth. Monetization is merely a funding source.
  • The scheme offers a participation incentive to states with a 33% matching transfer from the Centre for revenues that states realize under the scheme.
  • This matching transfer could well have the perverse consequence of states under-achieving the potential value realizable. 
  • Volume II of the NMP document refers to the Scheme for Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure announced in October 2020.
  • It offered states an interest-free loan with bullet repayment after 50 years to complete stalled capital projects, or settle the outstanding bills of contractors.
  • The NMP demands clear and well-thought-through processes, with sufficient transparency and safeguards in the form of regulatory structures.

Conclusion

For now, the need of the hour is export facilitation.

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Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

PM announces Rice Fortification Plan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fortification of food

Mains level : Addressing malnutrition issues

PM in his I-day speech has announced the fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes, including the Public Distribution System (PDS) and mid-day meals in schools, by 2024.

What is Fortification?

  • FSSAI defines fortification as “deliberately increasing 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”.

What is Fortified Rice?

  • Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder to the rice that adheres to the grains or spraying 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.
  • These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio, and distributed for consumption.

Note: 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 the processing of the crops.

What is the plan announced by the PM?

  • Malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients in poor women and poor children pose major obstacles in their development.
  • In view of this, it has been decided that the government will fortify the rice given to the poor under its various schemes.
  • Be it the rice available at ration shops or the rice provided to children in their mid-day meals, the rice available through every scheme will be fortified by the year 2024.

Why such a move?

  • The announcement is significant as the country has high levels of malnutrition among women and children.
  • According to the Food Ministry, every second woman in the country is anemic and every third child is stunted.
  • India ranks 94 out of 107 countries and is in the ‘serious hunger’ category on the Global Hunger Index (GHI).
  • Fortification of rice is a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets.
  • According to the Food Ministry, seven countries have mandated rice fortification – the USA, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and the Solomon Islands.

Advantages offered

  • 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.

Adhering to FSSAI standard

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) sets standards for food items in the country.

  • According to FSSAI norms, 1 kg fortified rice will contain iron (28 mg-42.5 mg), folic acid (75-125 microgram), and Vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 microgram).
  • In addition, rice may also be fortified with micronutrients, singly or in combination, with zinc(10 mg-15 mg), Vitamin A (500-750 microgram RE), Vitamin B1 (1 mg-1.5 mg), Vitamin B2 (1.25 mg-1.75 mg), Vitamin B3 (12.5 mg-20 mg) and Vitamin B6 (1.5 mg-2.5 mg) per kg.

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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 programme 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:

  1. avoid classroom hunger
  2. increase school enrolment
  3. increase school attendance
  4. improve socialization among castes
  5. address malnutrition
  6. empower women through employment

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[pib] NAFED launches Fortified Rice Bran Oil

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rice Bran Oil

Mains level : Health risks posed by Edible oils

The Department of Food and Public Distribution today E-launched “NAFED Fortified Rice Bran Oil”.

Rice Bran Oil

  • Rice bran oil is the oil extracted from the hard outer brown layer of rice called chaff (rice husk).
  • It is known for its high smoke point of 232 °C (450 °F) and mild flavor, making it suitable for high-temperature cooking methods such as stir-frying and deep-frying.
  • It is popular as a cooking oil in the Indian subcontinent.
  • It has a composition similar to that of peanut oil, with 38% monounsaturated, 37% polyunsaturated, and 25% saturated fatty acids.
  • It is generally safe for consumption for most people when used in moderate amounts. However excessive usage of rice bran oil can lead to stomach discomfort.

What is NAFED oil?

  • Rice Bran oil from NAFED will be fortified and it will be ensured that it will contain additional nutrients and vitamins.
  • This Rice bran oil will be marketed by NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd).
  • According to the FSSAI, fortified oil can help a person fulfill 25-30% of the recommended dietary intake for vitamins A and D.
  • NAFED Fortified Rice Bran Oil will be available at all NAFED Stores and also on various online platforms.

Benefits of the NAFED oil

  • This initiative will significantly reduce the country’s consumption dependence on imported edible oil in the future.
  • This will provide opportunities for Indian edible oil manufacturers further, and also will give an impetus to the Aatmnirbhar Bharat initiative.
  • It will provide easy access to NAFED branded high-quality rice bran oil, which will also give a boost to the indigenous oil manufacturing industry.

Health benefits of rice bran oil

  • Rice Bran oil has multiple health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels due to its low trans-fat content and high monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat contents.
  • It also acts as a booster and reduces the risk of cancer due to the high amount of Vitamin E it contains.
  • This oil is recommended by The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the best substitutes for other edible oils.

About NAFED

  • NAFED is an apex organization under the Ministry of Agriculture that deals with marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in India.
  • It is registered under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act.
  • It was set up with the object to promote Cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit the farmers.
  • Agricultural farmers are the main members of NAFED, who have the authority to say in the form of members of the General Body in the working of NAFED.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Mustard oil blending is now banned

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Edible Oil imports of India

Mains level : NA

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had decided this on March 31. This would end the practice to add other edible oil (like palms, rice bran, etc) to mustard oil.

Why such move?

  • This is good news for mustard farmers whose fortunes were adversely hit as up to a fifth of mustard oil volume could earlier be blends of other oils.
  • But why did India start the practice in the first place? And how has it affected consumer health?

Answer this question from CSP 2018:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The quantity of imported edible oils is more than the domestic production of edible oils in the last five years.
  2. The Government does not impose any customs duty on all the imported edible oils as a special case.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Why did the blending begin?

  • The Union health ministry had allowed blending in edible vegetable oil in a notification in 1990.
  • In 1998, Delhi and other north Indian states witnessed the dropsy epidemic — a disease that caused swelling in the body due to the build-up of fluid in tissues.
  • At least 60 people died and 3,000 were hospitalized in the national capital.
  • Researchers believed the consumption of mustard oil caused the disease.

Adulteration is hazardous

  • Upon investigation, it was found to be adulterated with Argemone Mexicana, a kind of weed that grows with yellow flowers.
  • The adulteration, however, was highly suspicious: While mustard is a rabi crop that is cultivated in the winters, Argemone Mexicana grows in April-May.
  • This meant that the possibility of mixing mustard seeds with that Argemone mexicana was rare.
  • The suspicious adulteration stoked fear among the masses.  It started a campaign against the consumption of oil.
  • Several studies have found mustard oil unsafe for consumption.

The 1990 decision

  • Experts have claimed that the blending of mustard oil was not only dangerous to health but also adversely impacted mustard farming.
  • Some groups have also flagged the blending of refined oil.
  • Following the Union health ministry’s 1990 notification allowing for the blending of edible vegetable oil, the FSSAI rolled out regulations in the regard in 2006.
  • Producers and other companies involved in blending were regularised through the Agriculture Produce (Grading and Marking) Act (AGMARK).
  • It also made it mandatory to write the kind of oil used for blending over the packet.
  • The companies involved in blending strongly advocated for the cause, despite reports about its excess and unregulated use. The governments over the years have been tight-lipped about it.

Has blending led to dependence over the import of oil?

  • In 1990-91, India was self-reliant in mustard oil production and produced 98 percent of the oil needed.
  • Blending mustard oil with other edible oils considered to bolster nutritional profile, taste, and quality.
  • Despite the harmful effects, the processing industry took advantage of blending.
  • Cheap palm oil would be blended up to 80 percent in mustard oil sometimes.
  • As a result, profits of mustard farmers dried up, which discouraged them from cultivating the crop.
  • This could be one of the reasons behind India’s increasing dependency on oil imports over the last two decades.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

FSSAI slashes limit for Trans Fats level in food

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trans fats

Mains level : Health threats posed by Trans Fats

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has capped the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in oils and fats to 3% for 2021 and 2% by 2022 from the current permissible limit of 5%.

New FSSAI norms

  • FSSAI has acted in response to the amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations.
  • The country’s food regulatory body notified the amendment on December 29, more than a year after it issued a draft on the subject for consultation with stakeholders.
  • The revised regulation applies to edible refined oils, vanaspati (partially hydrogenated oils), margarine, bakery shortenings, and other mediums of cooking such as vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads.
  • It was in 2011 that India first passed a regulation that set a TFA limit of 10% in oils and fats, which was further reduced to 5% in 2015.

What are Trans Fats?

  • Artificial Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  • Since they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture, they are still widely used despite their harmful effects being well-known.

Why such a regulation?

  • Trans fats are associated with increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease.
  • As per the WHO, approximately 5.4 lakh deaths take place each year globally because of intake of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids.
  • The WHO has also called for global elimination of trans fats by 2023.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Fortified rice in PDS

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fortified rice, Biofortification, ICDS

Mains level : Food fortification and associated issues

As the Odisha government is preparing to launch fortified rice in the Public Distribution System (PDS), some 100 activists have opposed the move.

Q.What is Fortification of Food? Discuss its various advantages and limitations.

What is Fortified Rice?

  • 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 micro-nutrients, such as iron, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc.
  • These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio, and distributed for consumption.

Its advantage

  • Fortified staple foods will contain natural or near natural levels of micro-nutrients, which may not necessarily be the case with supplements.
  • It provides nutrition without any change in characteristics of food or course of our meals.
  • If consumed on a regular and frequent basis, fortified foods will maintain body stores of nutrients more efficiently and more effectively than will intermittent supplements.
  • The overall costs of fortification are extremely low; the price increase is approximately 1 to 2 per cent of the total food value.

Issues with fortified food

  • Fortification and enrichment upsets nature’s packaging. Our body does not absorb individual nutrients added to processed foods as efficiently compared to nutrients naturally occurring.
  • Supplements added to foods are less bioavailable. Bioavailability refers to the proportion of a nutrient your body is able to absorb and use.
  • They lack immune-boosting substances.
  • 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.

Why did the activists protest?

  • Vitamin C and calcium are available in abundance in natural food. Vitamin C is water soluble.
  • If the rice is laced with Vitamin C, it will get washed away while the rice is cleaned before cooking.
  • It is a futile exercise to add Vitamin C to uncooked rice.
  • In our traditional cooking practices, lemon juice is squeezed into cooked food before its consumption.
  • The decision would lead to wasteful expenditure of taxpayers’ money.

Note: 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 the processing of the crops.

Regulating fortification

  • 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 the 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.

Why it is necessary ?

  • Reaching target populations
  • Avoiding over-consumption in non-target groups
  • Monitoring nutritional status

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

FSSAI Food Safety Index for 2019-20

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FSSAI, Food Safety Index

Mains level : Food safety initiaitives in India

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recently released its Food Safety report for 2019-20.

Food safety has been in news this year quite frequent. Do make a note of following – Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), Red Octagon, Eat Right Movement, Food Safety Mitra etc.

The Food Safety Index

  • The index ranks states on five parameters of food safety: human resources and institutional data, compliance, food testing facility, training and capacity building besides consumer empowerment.
  • This is the second index on food safety, which FSSAI released on the occasion of World Food Safety Day with the theme “Food Safety is everyone’s business”.
  • It was dedicated to those in the supply chain who have ensured the uninterrupted availability of safe food during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights of the report

  • Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have topped an index that ranked states ensuring food safety in 2019-20.
  • Among the smaller states, Goa came first followed by Manipur and Meghalaya.
  • Among UTs, Chandigarh, Delhi and the Andaman Islands secured top ranks.

Back2Basics: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

  • The FSSAI is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • It has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
  • It is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
  • It is headed by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government, either holding or has held the position of not below the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Spirulina Groundnut Chikki to boost immunity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Spirulina Groundnut Chikki

Mains level : NA

The Mysuru-based Central Food Technological Research Institute, CFTRI has developed Spirulina groundnut Chikki that can provide micro-nutrients and boost the immunity of people during this time of the pandemic.

Beware, the Chikki so mentioned has no GI tag. What makes it significant is the Spirulina, a photosynthetic bacteria, which is suitable for human consumption.

Spirulina Groundnut Chikki

  • It is a snack that provides good micro-nutrients.
  • It has used Spirulina as well as the tasty, nourishing groundnuts to prepare Chikki that is rich in micro-nutrients such as Vitamin A, Beta Carotene and easily digestible algal proteins.
  • Other nutritious snacks of CFTRI such as Nutri mango fruit bar and cardamom flavoured water is also part of the food items supplied to the migrant labourers.
  • The mango bar is rich with carbohydrates, carotene, Vitamin C and Zinc to improve the immunity.
  • Cardamom flavoured water with traditional herbs to have immune booster qualities.

What is Spirulina?

  • Spirulina is an organism that grows in both fresh and saltwater.
  • It is a type of cyanobacteria, which is a family of single-celled microbes that are often referred to as blue-green algae.
  • It is used as a dietary supplement or whole food. It is also used as a feed supplement in the aquaculture, aquarium, and poultry industries.
  • Just like plants, cyanobacteria can produce energy from sunlight via a process called photosynthesis.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[pib] Regulating Content of Trans-Fat in Oils and Fats

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trans-Fat

Mains level : Trans-Fat related health hazards

 

 

The limit of trans-fats to be not more than 5% is prescribed under Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 for vanaspati, bakery shortenings, bakery and industrial margarine and interesterified vegetable fats/oils.

What are Trans Fats?

  • Artificial Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  • Since they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture, they are still widely used despite their harmful effects being well-known.

Why this move?

  • Studies have recently shown that 60,000 deaths occur every year due to cardiovascular diseases, which in turn are caused due to high consumption of trans fats.
  • Since the impact of trans fats on human health is increasing exponentially, it is very important to create awareness about them.

Standards for Trans-fats

  • A draft notification to limit trans-fat to be not more than 2% by weight of the total oils/fats present in the processed food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient on and from 1st January, 2022 was issued on 28.08.2019
  • Standards prescribed under various regulations of FSSAI are enforced to check that they comply with the standards laid down under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and the rules and regulations made thereunder.
  • In cases where the food samples are found to be non-conforming, recourse is taken to penal provisions under Chapter IX of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[pib] Network for Scientific Co-operation for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (NetSCoFAN)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NetSCoFAN

Mains level : Not Much

Union Health Minister has launched NetSCoFAN, a network of research & academic institutions working in the area of food & nutrition.

NetSCoFAN

  • The NetSCoFAN would comprise of eight groups of institutions working in different areas viz. biological, chemical, nutrition & labelling, food of animal origin, food of plant origin, water & beverages, food testing, and safer & sustainable packaging.
  • FSSAI has identified eight Nodal Institutions who would develop a ‘Ready Reckoner’ that will have inventory of all research work, experts and institutions and would carry out and facilitate research, survey and related activities.
  • It would identify research gaps in respective areas and collect, collate and develop database on food safety issues for risk assessment activities.
  • The need for identify research gaps in respective areas and collect, collate and develop database on food safety issues for risk assessment activities, will be addressed by NetSCoFAN.
  • The NetSCoFAN directory would be covering detailed information of various heads/Directors and lead scientists of lead and associated partnering institutions.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

Mains level : Food safety and over-nutrition issues

An array of packaged snacks and fast foods breach safe limits of salt and fat content, says a laboratory analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment.

The agency tested salt, fat, trans-fat and carbohydrates in  popular “junk foods”, which consisting of chips, salted snacks, instant noodles and instant soup, and burgers, fries, fried chicken, pizzas, sandwiches and wraps.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

  • To calculate how unsafe the foods tested were, the organisation relied on the concept of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) — a daily ceiling on the amount of salt, fat, carbohydrates and transfats.
  • The RDA is based on scientific consensus and has been agreed upon by expert bodies such as the World Health Organisation, and the National Institute of Nutrition in India.
  • It says that, ideally, no more than 5 gm of salt, 60 gm of fat, 300 gm carbohydrate and 2.2 gm of transfat should be consumed by an adult every day.
  • Further, the RDA from each breakfast, lunch and dinner should be no more than 25%, and that from snacks no more than 10%.

Need to declare nutritional information

  • According to the proposed draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, packaged food companies need to declare nutritional information such as calories (energy), saturated fat, trans-fat, added sugar and sodium per serve on the front of the pack.
  • The food labels are also required to declare, per serve percentage contribution to RDA on the front of the pack.
  • Though under discussions since 2015 and several drafts — the latest one came out in in July — these rules have yet to become law, and to be operationalised.

Displaying ‘Red Octagon’

  • The CSE concluded that all of the popular snacks and fast foods ought to be displaying a ‘Red Octagon’, a warning symbol employed in packaged foods in Chile and Peru.
  • The Red Octagon, which should be printed on the front of the pack, has a number and the name of the food component within that indicates how widely off the RDA a particular ingredient is.
  • Say, a Red “3.1, Salt” on a pack indicates that the salt it contains is 3.1 times the RDA for snacks.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[op-ed snap] Junking fast food: On norms against food rich in fat, sugar and salt

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : FSSAI regulations on fast food

Context

FSSAI has notified a draft regulation aimed at changing dietary habits.

Regulations

    • Ban on advertising and sales – It prohibits the sale and advertisement of food rich in fat, sugar, and salt to schoolchildren inside the school premises and within 50 m around it.
    • Promote a balanced diet – It requires schools to simultaneously encourage and promote a safe and balanced diet.
    • Ban on unhealthy foods – To shield the children from consuming unhealthy food items and snacks, FSSAI prohibits food companies that manufacture such items from advertising or offering such foods in school premises and within 50 m of the campus.
    • No branding – Food companies are prohibited from using their logos, brand names and product names on books and other educational materials, as well as on school property such as buildings, buses, and athletic fields. 
    • Health recommendations – The agency recommends the use of a combination of whole grains, milk, eggs, and millets.
    • Food products – It also listed a set of general guidelines for the selection of food products that can be offered in schools.

A shift in the direction

    • Court order – The 2015 order from the Delhi High Court directed the central agency to frame norms to promote healthy diets in schools.
    • Malnutrition – malnutrition accounted for over seven lakh (68%) deaths in children under the age of five years in 2017 in India.
    • Obesity – There is rising obesity in schoolchildren in many States. According to a July 2017 study, India had the second most number of obese children among 195 countries. 
    • More overweight children – A recent study found 23 States to have child overweight prevalence more than the national average. 6 States have a prevalence of over 20%. 
    • Impact of western diets – Several studies have shown how a western diet affects the composition and diversity of gut bacteria and sets the stage for many metabolic diseases. 

Challenges

    • Enforcement – The challenge will be in enforcement, in preventing the sale and promotion of unhealthy food near schools. 
    • Despite the sale and advertisement of tobacco products within 100 yards of a school being prohibited, the violation is more the norm than the exception. Shops that sell tobacco products very often also sell many of the packaged unhealthy foods.
    • Inculcating habits – inculcating healthy eating habits starts at home. 

Way ahead

    • Schools and parents should ensure children get adequate physical activity.
    • A combination of healthy food and regular physical activity will go a long way in bringing up healthy children.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[op-ed snap] Safe, but not entirely

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Food safety

Context

The “most comprehensive and representative” milk safety and quality survey has demolished the perception of large-scale milk adulteration in India. 

Data from the survey 

  • It was undertaken on 6,432 samples collected last year between May and October.
  • It was picked from over 1,100 towns /cities with over 50,000 population.
  • The survey was done by an independent agency at the behest of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • It was found that 93% of the samples were absolutely safe. 
  • The samples were tested for 13 common adulterants and three contaminants — pesticides, aflatoxin M1 and antibiotics. 
  • Only 12 adulterated samples were found to be unsafe for consumption. 
  • The adulterated samples were also subjected to confirmatory tests. They were from just three States: Telangana (nine), Madhya Pradesh (two) and Kerala (one). 
  • As per the survey, the quantitative analysis of all adulterated samples showed that the amount of adulterants and contaminants in the dozen samples was not high and “unlikely to pose a serious threat” to human health. 
  • It found 368 samples (5.7%) had aflatoxin M1 residues beyond the permissible limit of 0.5 microgram per kilogram. 
  • Compared with aflatoxin M1, antibiotics were seen above the permissible level in 77 samples, from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Aflatoxin M1 was more widely present in processed milk samples than in raw milk. 
  • This is the first time the presence of the contaminant in milk has been assessed. 

Aflatoxin

  • According to the FSSAI, aflatoxin M1 in milk is from feed and fodder, which is not regulated. 
  • According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer the contaminant has been classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. 
  • Its carcinogenic potency is estimated to be about one-tenth of aflatoxin B1. 
  • The current survey has limited itself to milk. It is not clear how widespread aflatoxin M1 contamination is in milk products such as cheese. 
  • Aflatoxin M1 in milk and milk products is a public health concern especially in infants and young children as milk constitutes one of the major sources of nutrients. 
  • According to the World Health Organisation, exposure to aflatoxin M1 in milk and milk products is especially high in areas where the grain quality used as animal feed is poor. 

Conclusion 

  • All attempts need to be taken both before and after food crop harvest to reduce the toxin amount. 
  • Improper storage of food harvest in warm and humid conditions lead to aflatoxin contamination that is much higher than what is seen in the field.
  • It is important is to have facilities to regularly test for aflatoxin M1.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[pib] Food Safety Mitra (FSM) Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FSM Scheme

Mains level : Food safety measures


  • Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the ‘Food Safety Mitra (FSM)’ scheme, along with the ‘Eat Right Jacket’, and ‘Eat Right Jhola’ to strengthen food safety administration and scale up the ‘Eat Right India’ movement.

FSM scheme

  • The scheme will support small and medium scale food businesses to comply with the food safety laws and facilitate licensing and registration, hygiene ratings and training.
  • Apart from strengthening food safety, this scheme would also create new employment opportunities for youth, particularly with food and nutrition background.
  • The FSMs would undergo training and certification by FSSAI to do their work and get paid by food businesses for their services.

Eat Right Jacket

  • The ‘Eat Right Jacket’ will be used by the field staff.
  • This jacket has a smart design to hold tech devices like tablets/smart phone, a QR code and RFID tag for identification and tracking.

Eat Right Jhola

  • The ‘Eat Right Jhola’, a reusable cloth bag shall replace plastic bags for grocery shopping in various retail chains.
  • Since on repeated use, bags are often contaminated with microorganisms and bacteria, proper and regular washing of cloth bags is essential to ensure safety and hygiene.
  • These cloth bags are being provided on rental basis through a private textile rental service company.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[pib] “Eat Right India” Movement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : “Eat Right India” Movement

Mains level : Healthcare awareness in India


  • Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the “Trans Fat Free” logo of Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • This marked an important milestone in the movement against Trans-Fats and also provided a momentum to accelerate the ‘Eat Right India’ movement of FSSAI.

About the logo

  • The food establishments which use trans-fat free oil and do not have industrial trans-fat more than 0.2g/100g of food, in compliance with the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2018 can display “Trans-fat free” logo at their outlets and on their food products.
  • The use of the said logo is voluntary.

Why such move?

  • Studies have recently shown that 60,000 deaths occur every year due to cardiovascular diseases, which in turn are caused due to high consumption of trans fats.
  • Since the impact of trans fats on human health is increasing exponentially, it is very important to create awareness about them.
  • India is committed to eliminating it from the food supply and is progressing towards its objective of trans fat elimination by 2022; a year ahead of the global target by WHO.

What are Trans Fats?

  • Trans fats are the worst type of fats with known health risks.
  • Artificial Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  • Since they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture, they are still widely used despite their harmful effects being well-known.
  • Trans-fats are largely present in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats/oils, vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings, and can be found in baked and fried foods.

The Eat Right Movement

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has unveiled last year ‘The Eat Right Movement’, built on two broad pillars of ‘Eat Healthy’ and ‘Eat Safe’.
  • The programme aims to engage and enable citizens to improve their health and well-being by making the right food choices.

The aim of the movement

  • To cut down salt/sugar and oil consumption by 30% in three years.

About Green Purple Initiative

  • FSSAI also launched the Green Purple initiative logo.
  • The initiative aims to qualify the chefs on food safety legal requirements and sustainable cooking methods, in order to promote trans-fat free cooking.
  • It will be a six months program that includes key areas of trans-fat free cooking, using less sodium, and hygienic, seasonal, eco-friendly, less energy consuming cooking methods.
  • The chefs shall thereafter ensure global standards of food safety and sustainable environment practices.

Back2Basics

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

  • It is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
  • FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
  • The FSSAI is headed by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government, either holding or has held the position of not below the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Five new rights you get as a consumer

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Consumer Rights bill

Mains level : Consumer Protection law - analysis

NEWS

Consumer Protection Bill passed in Rajya Sabha

Provisions

  1. More responsibility on companies for misleading advertising and faulty products
  2. Lays out penalties for celebrities endorsing or promoting false advertising and adulterated goods

Additional consumer rights

  1. RIGHT TO FILE A COMPLAINT FROM ANYWHERE 
    1. file a complaint with the District Consumer Commission or State Consumer Commission from your place of residence or work instead of filing at a place of purchase or where the seller has its registered office
    2. A complaint can also be filed by a recognized consumer body or by multiple consumers with the same interest
    3. Consumer affairs ministry will frame rules for the filing of complaints electronically and will also specify norms for paying the required fee digitally
  2. RIGHT TO SEEK COMPENSATION UNDER PRODUCT LIABILITY 
    1. Can file a case against a product manufacturer or seller for any loss caused on account of a defective product. This applies to all services as well
    2. The manufacturer shall be held liable if there is a manufacturing defect or if there is a deviation from the manufacturing specifications or the product does not conform to the express warranty
    3. Recognizes “sharing personal information of consumers” as an unfair trade practice
  3. RIGHT TO PROTECT CONSUMERS AS A CLASS
    1. A complaint relating to the violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices or misleading advertisements prejudicial to the interests of consumers may be forwarded either in writing or in electronic mode to any one of the authorities — district collector or commissioner of regional office or Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) for class action
  4. RIGHT TO SEEK A HEARING THROUGH VIDEO CONFERENCING
    1. Every complaint shall be heard by district commission on the basis of documentary evidence placed before it
    2. the commission can allow an application made for hearing or for an examination of parties through video conference
  5. RIGHT TO KNOW WHY A COMPLAINT WAS REJECTED
    1. The commission cannot reject a complaint without hearing the complainant
    2. Commission has to decide about admitting or rejecting a complaint within 21 days
    3. If the commission doesn’t decide within the time limit, it shall be deemed to have been admitted
    4. The commission can direct both parties to give their consent to have the dispute settled through mediation

Exceptions

  1. Endorser exercised due diligence to verify the veracity of the claims made in the advertisement regarding the product or service being endorsed
  2. The publisher has done an advertisement in the ordinary course of his business

Grey areas

  1. The government removed healthcare as one of the services to make the bill ‘non-controversial’
  2. While the CCPA will be a central regulator for consumer issues, there are other regulators for various sectors like telecom, insurance, which leaves the scope for overlapping jurisdictions and confusion
  3. The law proposes a 21-day deadline for hearing complaints, but 118 posts of president of consumer commissions and 362 posts of commission members are lying vacant in 596 districts

Other penalties

  1. Adulteration
    1. No injury to consumer – Up to 6 months jail with up to Rs 1 lakh fine
    2. Causes injury – Up to 1 year in jail & fine up to Rs 3 lakh
    3. Grievous injury – Up to 7 years in jail & fine up to Rs 5 lakh
  2. Non Compliance
    1. Failure to comply with an order of CCPA – Up to 6 months in jail/jail with fines up to Rs 20 lakh or both
    2. Failure to comply with orders of the district, state or national commission – Jail from 1 month – to 3 years/jail with fine from Rs 25,000 up to Rs 1 lakh or both

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[op-ed snap] The Salt Example

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Food fortification

Mains level : Food fortification may address widespread deficiencies like anaemia.

CONTEXT

India has been able to dramatically reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty from 306 million people living on less than $1.90 (on a PPP basis) a day in 2011 to 48 million today. However, it is puzzling as to why the country has been unable to show a similar dynamism in its record against malnutrition.

The situation regarding malnutrition in the country

  • Despite major government interventions — including providing highly subsidised foodgrains to the poorest 67 per cent of the population under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), a free Mid-day Meal Scheme (MDM) that targets around 100 million students in government schools and a supplementary nutrition programme through the ICDS network — the country is home to the largest number of malnourished children in the world.
  • In the decade between 2005-06 and 2015-16, stunting declined at the rate of 0.9 per cent per annum.

Anaemia is widespread

  • Though anaemia among children has declined, it affects every second child in the country.
  • There has been no perceptible decline in anaemia among 15 to 49-year old women; it affects around 60 per cent of them. This public health emergency needs to be addressed immediately.

Reasons for widespread anaemia

  • Poverty, gender disparity, poor sanitation, low health and nutrition service coverage and poor nutritional intake — particularly an iron-deficient diet — continue to impede our fight against anaemia.
  • The daily consumption of iron rich dark green leafy vegetables has reduced from 64 per cent to 48 per cent of the population in the last decade.
  • Many, in fact, argue that the NFSA’s focus on wheat and rice has forced millets — traditional source for iron and minerals — out of the market.
  • The government’s iron supplementation programme to overcome IDA has led to only 30 per cent of pregnant women consuming iron and folic acid tablets.
  • This compels us to think of simpler and effective strategies like fortification of food staples with essential micronutrients like iron and vitamin.

Food fortification as a solution

  • Food fortification is a largely-ignored, yet critical, strategy which has proved an effective, affordable, scalable and sustainable intervention in many countries.
  • India too has tested this idea when it successfully tackled the widespread problem of goitre by mandating iodised salt in 1962.
  • As there are numerous programmes to address malnutriton, this simple idea of fortifying meals has the potential to reach every segment of the population.
  • The Women and Child Development and Human Resource Development ministries have issued advisories to the states to mandatorily use fortified wheat flour and edible oil in ICDS and MDM. 

Fortification of Rice

  • Supply of fortified rice through a network of fair price shops is a cost-effective intervention to address anaemia across all sections of the population.
  • Evaluations in Odisha’s Gajapati district, which experimented with fortified rice in MDM, found that the incidence of anaemia has reduced by 20 per cent between 2012 and 2015, of which 6 per cent reduction can be directly attributable to fortification.
  • The Department of Food and Public Distribution, facilitated by the NITI Aayog, has recently launched a centrally-sponsored scheme on rice fortification in PDS.

Conclusion

Dependence on political will – A successful pan-India scale up of fortification will depend on many factors — the political will of state governments, flexibility to allow states to adapt the fortification model to their procurement and distribution systems and capacity building of different stakeholders.

 Strengthening role of FSSAI – The FSSAI’s role, its enforcement machinery and the quality control labs needs to be strengthened.

Generation of awareness among people -Lastly and most crucially, sustainability of fortification depends on the regular consumption of fortified food by the consumers and thus a comprehensive state specific strategy should be developed to generate awareness among the consumers.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

India extends ban on import of Chinese milk products, chocolates

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Melanin

Mains level : Preventing Adulteration of Milk

  • The government has extended the ban on import of milk and its products, including chocolates, from China till laboratories at ports for testing presence of toxic chemical melamine are upgraded.

Ban over Melamine

  • Food regulator FSSAI had recommended extending the ban until all labs at ports are modernized to test the chemical.
  • The ban was first imposed in September 2008 and extended subsequently from time to time.
  • Although India does not import milk, milk products from China, it has imposed the ban as a preventive measure.
  • However, it has not mentioned any timeline for upgradation of that capacity of all laboratories.

Why Ban?

  • Melamine content of more than 1 ppm in infant formula and more than 2.5 ppm in other foods should be viewed with suspicion of adulteration.
  • Addition of melamine into food is not approved by the FAO/ WHO Codex Alimentarius (food standard commission), or by any national authorities.
  • Chinese milk scandal: In 2008, at least four babies in China died and around 100,000 became sick after consuming powdered milk baby food laced with melamine.

About Melamine

  • Melamine is a chemical compound that has a number of industrial uses, including the production of laminates, glues, dinnerware, adhesives, molding compounds, coatings and flame retardants.
  • It is a name used both for the chemical and for the plastic made from it. In this event, all references are to the chemical.
  • It is illegally added to inflate the apparent protein content of food products.
  • Because it is high in nitrogen, the addition of melamine to a food artificially increases the apparent protein content as measured with standard tests.

Back2Basics

Milk Production in India

  • India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of milk. It produces around 150 million tonne milk annually.
  • Uttar Pradesh is the leading state in milk production followed by Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

EAT-Lancet Report for a sustainable food system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EAT-Lancet Report

Mains level : Global need for a sustainable food system

  • One of the most influential public health documents of this decade, the EAT-Lancet Commission’s Food Planet Health, was formally released for India.

EAT-Lancet Report

  • The report stated that transformation to healthy diets by 2050 will require substantial dietary shifts.
  • The report was authored by 37 international experts, including two from India, has been put together by EAT, the science-based global platform for food system transformation, and the journal The Lancet .

Highlights of the report

  • The EAT-Lancet Commission’s report, for the first time proposes scientific targets for what constitutes a healthy diet derived from a sustainable food system.
  • It added that healthy diets had an optimal caloric intake and consisted largely of a diversity of plant-based foods and low amounts of animal-source foods, contained unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and limited amounts of refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars.
  • The report also called for doubling in the consumption of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, and a greater than 50 per cent reduction in global consumption of less healthy foods.
  • EAT-Lancet also proposed a country-specific report for a reference diet for India, which was supported by the country’s apex food regulator, which stated that the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad.

Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Kerala takes the lead in tackling trans fat hazard

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Eat Right Movement, Swastha Bharat Yatra, Heart Attack Rewind, TFA

Mains level: Read the attached story.


News

  • The Kerala state Health Department has drawn up an action plan to generate public awareness on the harmful effects of trans fatty acids (TFA) in commercially available food items.

Plan to phase out TFA

  1. The plan is aimed to encourage the local food industry to meet the current statutory limits set for TFA.
  2. An unhealthy diet with a high TFA content is a significant factor that pushes up metabolic syndrome and the burden of its associated complications amongst Keralites.
  3. The year-long action plan has specific components on building awareness on trans fat amongst food business operators (FBOs) and giving them scientific sessions and training on how they can keep their food TFA-free.
  4. Generating public awareness on the harmful effects of trans fat, especially among schoolchildren, is being given special focus.
  5. Clear timelines are being set as to when each of the components of the plan should be completed and when enforcement should begin.

Focus on low Sodium content food

  1. Salt being a major contributor to hypertension and stroke, the action plan also plans to address the high salt content in processed foods, pickles, papads and condiments by encouraging manufacturers to move to low sodium options.
  2. The pickle industry is in agreement that good hygienic and manufacturing practices and low sodium options can reduce the salt content in their products.

Need for alternatives

  1. The food industry is willing to ditch partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs, one of the main sources of TFA in industrially produced food ).
  2. It aims to switch to TFA-free margarine or shortening to produce baked goods.

Support for initiative

  1. The department is being supported in this initiative by Vital Strategies, the nutrition wing of the World Bank, WHO, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  2. The State Food Safety wing will be in charge of enforcement.
  3. An experts’ group has been constituted for the implementation of the guidelines on TFA and salt reduction.

Back2Basics

Trans Fats

Food Safety Regulations in India and the Way Forward

From junk food bans to street food regulations, FSSAI has been in news all the year round and most notoriously for the Maggie ban! UPSC does not necessarily goes for the most hot topic in news which is the Maggie ban in this context but this whole episode opens up a hitherto unknown organisation to us – The FSSAI.

And what must a worthy IAS aspirant do? Study the ins and outs of this organisation – food safety regulations – its latest victories and controversies! And that’s not it, one more reason which makes this topic important is the declaration of the World Health Day’s 2015 theme – Food Safety.

So, what all have been the cases of FSSAI activism this year? For starters, these guys banned junk food in Delhi school canteens!

  1. Acting on a public interest writ petition, the Delhi HC had earlier directed FSSAI to regulate sale of foods high in salt, fats and sugar in and around 50 metres of schools.
  2. Court also directed CBSE to consider including the adherence to these guidelines while giving affiliation to the schools.
  3. The draft guidelines suggested creation of a canteen policy and education program to inform students and parents of link between ‘High in fats, salt & sugar’ (HFSS) foods and non-communicable diseases like obesity, hypertension, diabetes etc.

But what was the need to do this? Glad you wondered!

A study published in the noted medical journal Lancet says India is just behind US and China in this global hazard list of top 10 countries with highest number of obese people.

Fair enough, what about the street food that we devour?

This is where CSE came in and presented a case for regulation on the street food. They want the agencies to:

  1. Strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSS) .
  2. Improve food testing laboratory infrastructure and skills.
  3. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) should set maximum residual limits for antibiotic residues in chicken etc.
  4. Set a national level disease surveillance and public alert system.

 

All this is well and fine but you probably still want to know what happened with the Maggi case? More particularly, what was the issue with MSG (Ajinomoto)!

Here’s all that we could find on the MSG/ Ajinimoto issue. UPSC Might not ask a direct question but can probably check you on a quick objective (IAS 2016) or you can use this as a quick criticism point on FSSAI’s propensity to escalate issues!

Some major criticisms that came in the way of FSSAI:

  1. It is time we wake up and work on a science-based approach and move forward rapidly.
  2. If we have periodical evaluation in aviation for pilots, why not for analysts who test our food?
  3. Ideally, scientists should be involved in monitoring at every stage, including sampling protocols, setting standards, and testing and simulation.
  4. The state labs are short of analytical personnel and ill-equipped to perform to capacity as compared to private labs which are approved by FSSAI.

 

Published with inputs from Sumer.

 

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