Rice Fortification

  • IASbaba
  • December 6, 2021
  • 0
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Rice Fortification

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Food Processing

What is food fortification?

  • According to the WHO, fortification is the process of increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, such as vitamins or minerals, in a food item to improve its nutritional value and provide public health benefits at minimal cost.
  • It has minimal effects on taste and cooking properties while at the same time adding multiple nutrients to cure multiple deficiencies.
  • It also has minimal behaviour change, unlike supplements.
  • For example, milk is often fortified with vitamin D, and calcium may be added to fruit juices.
  • Rice is the fifth item to get the government’s fortification push after salt, edible oil, milk and wheat.

How to fortify rice?

  • According to the norms of the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India, 1 kg of fortified rice must contain iron (28mg-42.5mg), folic acid (75-125 mg) and vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25mg).
  • Usual milled rice is low in micronutrient content because its nutrient-rich superficial layer is removed during rice milling and polishing operations. This makes the grain taste better and visually appealing but less nutritious.
  • Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder containing iron, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc, which then sticks to the grains.

The Significance

  • Malnutrition especially child malnutrition is a major threat to the growth and development of children.
    • According to a National Family Health Survey report, India has the largest burden of iron-deficiency and anaemia worldwide.
    • About 59% of children and 50% of pregnant women are anaemic in India.
    • Child and maternal malnutrition accounts for 15% of India’s total disease burden.
    • The country reportedly loses around 1 per cent of GDP (Rs 1.35 lakh crore) every year due to iron-deficiency anaemia.
  • Micronutrient deficiencies or ‘hidden hunger’ also continue to pose significant public health problems in Indian populations.
  • Therefore, the decision to fortify rice was taken to address the malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients especially among poor women and poor children.
  • Government distributes more than 300 lakh tonnes of rice to 81 crore people under schemes covered under National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.

News Source: PIB

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