According to the Copenhagen Consensus (2008), micronutrient fortification is classified as one of the top three international development priorities by a consortium of economists. Fortification remains a promising, scientifically proven, and cost-effective food-based strategy for overcoming micronutrient deficiencies, especially in women and children.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) defines fortification as the deliberate increase in the levels of essential micronutrients in food in order to improve the nutritional quality of foods and provide public health benefits with minimal health risk .

Section 92 of the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act 2006 gives the FSSAI the power to make regulations. On August 2, 2018, the food fortification regulation, known as Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations 2018, came into force, bringing together all the relevant operational standards under one roof.

It may seem that this food-based strategy in India is a new idea in relation to their recent initiative, but its history dates back to 1953 when the fortification of Vanaspati hydrogenated edible oil with vitamins A & D; and iodination of salt in 1962 was commissioned to implement the National Program for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Diseases.

FSSAI established the Food Fortification Resource Center (FFRC) to promote food fortification as a complementary strategy on a large scale. It acts as a resource hub and works with numerous stakeholders to help implement the guidelines of the Ministry of Women and Children Development and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Initially, in 2018, enrichment standards for five stles were notified – salt with iodine or iodine and iron in combination, vegetable oil and milk with vitamins A & D, flour (Atta and Maida) and rice, if fortified, with iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12 in Combination and the optional addition of zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 individually or in combination. Heme iron must not be added as a source of iron. Later, with the appearance of three amendments to this regulation in 2020 and 2021, standards for fortified milk-like milk powder; Multigrain atta similar to fortified atta; and certain processed foods such as cereal products (breakfast cereals, noodles, and noodles), baked goods (bread, cookies, rusks, and rolls) containing iron, folic acid, and vitamin B-12, and fruit juices containing vitamin C.

In addition, it is pointed out that the raw materials in fortified processed foods contain fortified stelks and / or may be fortified with the permissible content of micronutrients and additives specified in the Food Product Standards Food Additives Regulation of 2011 are set. Fortification of vanaspati and processed foods high in fat, salt and sugar are excluded from the scope of this regulation. In addition, food business operators (FBOs) must submit a quality assurance commitment twice a year.

In addition, this does not prevent food business operators from adding nutrients other than those mentioned to the food; Under the Proprietary Food category, it can be made in quantities that do not exceed an RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of the respective micronutrient.

With the exception of public systems such as integrated child development services, lunchtime meals and the public distribution system, food fortification is not compulsory; it remains a voluntary decision by the food business operator. But if you claim it is fortified, the additional standards required must be followed to protect the interests of consumers.

In contrast to traditional salts like rock salt / pink salt / black salt, the iodination of common (white) salt remains a mandate according to the provisions of food safety and standards (prohibition and restriction of sale); and also for those products for which the addition of certain micronutrients is a mandatory requirement according to the FSS regulations.

In January 2021, the FSSAI proposed mandates to fortify edible oil and milk with vitamins A and D. It was also announced that the fortification of rice with iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 will become mandatory in all social safety net systems by 2024 to address the issue of anemia. Several countries around the world such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Pua New Guinea and the USA have already prescribed rice enrichment.

Consumer education is necessary for this strategy to be effective. The regulation provides for the inclusion of a consumer education component, the + F logo, together with the words enriched with (name of the enrichment agent), and below this a slogan Sampoorna Poshan SwasthJ eevan can be placed on food packaging to identify such foods in the market. However, iodized salt is exempt from this labeling requirement.

Likewise according to the most recent amendment, which has been in force since August 27, 2021. Food fortified with iron must also be labeled “People with thalassemia can consume under medical supervision, and people with sickle cell anemia are advised not to consume iron. Fortified Foods „. It must also comply with the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations 2011. Health claims can be made on fortified food items for various added micronutrients according to Annex IV of the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulation 2018.

The regulation also addresses the concerns of vegetarians by only allowing the use of vegetable additives; it specifically states that the source of vitamin D is entirely from plants.

The dosages added to the stles are to be stated in metric units and are hereby adjusted so that they only cover 30-50% of the daily requirement in order to avoid side effects. For conformity and analysis purposes, the tolerance limit of minus 10% of the declared total value can be permitted, provided that the maximum limit of the added micronutrients is observed.

According to the FFRC brochure (ril 2020), 80 brands of fortified wheat flour, 55 fortified milk, 12 brands of fortified wheat flour, 2 fortified rice, 8 brands of fortified salt are available in the open market with + F confirmation. Some available Indian brands in the fortified wheat flour category include Pillsbury, Golden Harvest; Double Enriched Salt – Ankur, Sungold Plus, Patanjali Salt; Fortified Rice – Daawat Sehat Mogra, Lohitha; Fortified milk, Milma, Nandini, Vijaya, G-Fresh and edible oils include Cargill, Goldwinner, Kamani, Mother Dairy-Dhara, Adani-Wimar Fortune, Patanjali.

Effective implementation of this regulation with regular review and monitoring of standards, maintenance of adequate supply and demand for such food, and micronutrient profiling of the population will have a positive impact on society and contribute to the goal of Kuposhan Mukt Bharat of. to be reached in 2022.

(Sushama is part of the Dairy Chemistry Division, ICAR-NDRI, Karnal. Sain is part of the Dairy Engineering Division, ICAR-NDRI, Karnal. You can be reached at mukulsain95@gmail.com.)

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