Syllabus: General studies Paper 2
A group of health experts in India have raised concerns about the country’s strategy to fight malnutrition through food fortification. They argued for “extreme caution” in implementing new chemical interventions to address micronutrient deficiencies.
What is fortification?
Fortification is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content. These nutrients may or may not have been originally present in the food before processing.
Need of fortification:
Fortification is necessary to address deficiency of micronutrients or micronutrient malnutrition, also known as “hidden hunger”, a serious health risk. Unfortunately, those who are economically disadvantaged do not have access to safe and nutritious food. Others either do not consume a balanced diet or lack variety in the diet because of which they do not get adequate micronutrients. Often, there is considerable loss of nutrients during the processing of food.
Fortification in India:
Currently government is promoting fortification in following 5 food items:
Rice: Department of Food & Public Distribution (DFPD) has been running a “Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System”. The scheme was initiated in 2019-20 for a three-year pilot run. This scheme will run till 2023 and rice will be supplied to the beneficiaries at the rate of Re 1 per kilogram.
Wheat: The decision on fortification of wheat was announced in 2018 and is being implemented in 12 states under India’s flagship PoshanAbhiyaan to improve nutrition among children, adolescents, pregnant mothers and lactating mothers.
Edible oil: Fortification of edible oil, too, was made compulsory across the country by FSSAI in 2018.
Milk: Fortification of milk was started in 2017 under which the National Dairy Development Board of India (NDDB) is pushing companies to add vitamin D.
Benefits of fortification:
Issues with fortification:
Instead of pushing food fortification, the money will be better spent on alternative diet based sustainable solutions and improving the access to quality healthcare in the public sector.
Question-How food fortification can help in reducing hidden hunger. Explain.
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