Food fortification is the govt’s answer to micronutrient malnutrition

Speaking at the National Summit on Fortification of Food, the union minister of state for health, Anupriya Patel informed that the control of micronutrient deficiencies is an overarching effort of the Government to fight hunger and malnutrition in the country

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The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan and the Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Mrs Anupriya Patel releasing the book of food safety standards on fortification of foods, at the inauguration of the two-day National Summit on Fortification of Food, organised by the FSSAI, in New Delhi on October 16, 2016. The Secretary, Directorate of Health Research & Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Soumya Swaminathan and other dignitaries are also seen.

New Delhi: “The control of micronutrient deficiencies is an essential part of the overarching effort of the Government to fight hunger and malnutrition in the country.” This was stated by Mrs Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare while speaking at the inauguration of National Summit on Fortification of Food to address interventions in combating micronutrient malnutrition in the country. Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution was also present on the occasion.

Speaking at the function, Anupriya Patel stated that food fortification is a proven and effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society, including the poor and underprivileged as well as the vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children. “Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance. It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food. It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time. It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms,” the Minister elaborated.

Emphasizing further on the need for food fortification, Mrs Patel said that food fortification reinforces and supports existing nutrition improvement programmes and is part of a broader, integrated approach to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, thereby complementing other approaches to improve health and nutrition. The minister also released the standards on fortification of foods and launched the food fortification logo at the event.

ICMR plans to conduct health and nutrition survey to get first hand insights about nutritional values of the food consumed by the people of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), said that nutrition is a major determinant of health. She further added that macro and micro nutrients deficiency will lead to risk factors that may cause various diseases like TB, anaemia, etc. She informed that ICMR has planned to conduct health and nutrition survey to get first hand insights about nutritional values of the food consumed by the people of the country. Dr Swaminathan laid stress on the need to raise awareness and educate people about balanced diet.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (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. This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is co-hosting the two day Summit in partnership with related central ministries / departments and development partners. The Summit will bring together experts from the nutrition and development communities as well as representatives from state governments, academics, technical supporters and donors to beneficiaries past and present to discuss and debate – presenting in-depth analysis and impact assessments, important and case study examples of food fortification programs as well as learnings and challenges to build on so effective food fortification efforts can carry on delivering in the future.

Also present at the function were members of the food sector fraternity including the science community, industry – big corporates as well as small and medium food businesses represented by their associations, consumer and citizen organizations, international organizations and development partners, experts and government officials from Central ministries and States and other key stakeholders.